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May 22 proclaimed ‘Cherry Industry Day’ by Michigan lawmakers

LANSING -- Michigan lawmakers honored the state’s famous cherry industry Wednesday ahead of the annual National Cherry Festival later this summer.

May 22nd will now be known as Cherry Industry Day, thanks to the support of Northern Michigan Senator John Damoose.

“It’s never been more important to have a strong Cherry Festival this year,” said Damoose, R-Harbor Springs.

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Damoose donned his cherry tie to introduce the resolution, saying Michigan’s love of cherries is important to the state’s culture.

Lawmakers first recognized the National Cherry Festival in 1931, adapting it from the Blessing of the Blossoms which began in the early 1900s.

Kat Paye, executive director of the Cherry Festival, said she hoped the resolution would increase awareness of the industry for lawmakers and encourage consumers to support the festival later this summer.

“We are self proclaimed as the cherry capital of the world,” she said. “So it is very important that we continue to keep that title by growing all those cherries locally.”

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The group handed out cherry pie to every House and Senate member, encouraging the lawmakers to visit the festival that runs from June 29 to July 6.

Michigan’s cherry production has decreased in recent years, dropping from 180 million pounds in 2022 to 130 million in 2023. The state still produces a majority of tart cherries in the US, but farmers continue to adapt to a changing industry.

Damoose highlighted some challenges facing growers, including international competition and extreme weather.

“We need to begin to take this industry more seriously,” he said. “Everyone up north is getting used to seeing our cherry trees chopped down because cherry farmers simply can’t compete against the illegal dumping of cherries from countries like Turkey and other places around the world. If we aren’t careful, this industry will be gone within a few short decades.”

The resolution passed through the chamber unanimously.

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