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Fact Squad | Peters ad accurately touts work for farmers, omits lack of success

LANSING — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters “went to work” for Michigan cherry farmers in Washington, D.C., according to a new statewide campaign ad from the first-term Democrat, who is running for re-election against Republican John James.

The commercial, airing in both a 30-second and 60-second format, features Nels Veliquette, an Antrim County cherry grower who praises Peters for helping Michigan farmers fight against Turkish producers accused of intentionally dumping cheap fruit in the U.S. market.

That effort has been largely unsuccessful, however, a fact the ad hints at in a final comment from Veliquette: “This fight is far from over, but it’s good to know that Gary has our back.”

The claims

“All they wanted was a chance to compete,” Peters says in the ad, describing how Michigan cherry farmers were hurt by Turkish cherries being sold at “unfair” prices.

Peters was “the one guy that showed up from the very beginning,” Veliquette says.   

“He came to the factory, he listened to the growers, he listened to the processors. Gary even went directly to President [Donald] Trump in the White House to bring this problem to light for the cherry farmers here in Michigan.”

The facts

Peters has advocated for Michigan cherry farmers in their fight against Turkish imports and last year urged imposition of a nearly 650 percent tariff.

That hasn't happened After initially imposing a temporary 205 percent tariff in September of 2019, the U.S. International Trade Commission in January reversed itself and decided against a permanent tariff, rejecting a preliminary U.S. Commerce Department finding that Turkey is exporting dried tart cherries at below production cost. Instead, the commission in July began tracking Turkish cherry imports to further assess the impact on U.S. farmers.

Peters sponsored bipartisan legislation that would establish a federal task force that could recommend investigations into unfair trade practices. He raised the proposal in a February 2018 meeting with Trump and other members of Congress, telling the president cherry dumping is making it “very difficult” for growers who may not have resources to hire their own attorneys. 

“You have my help,” Trump told Peters. “I think it's a fantastic idea."

Nonetheless, the legislation has gone nowhere in the Republican-led Senate.

The conclusion

The facts are clear: Peters used his position in the Senate to fight for Michigan cherry farmers. Fact Squad did not identify any misstatements in the ad. And although the ad glosses over the fact that his advocacy wasn’t particularly successful, its chief argument is that he made the effort.

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