Shipping cherries to Australia good business for growers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Shipping cherries to Australia good business for growers

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- Growers in Washington State say shipping cherries to Australia could mean big money. Earlier this week we told you that Western Australia opened up restrictions to now allow cherries in. It took 10 years to open the region.

Some of those cherries come from right here in our valley. The President of the Washington State Fruit Commission says quite a few local cherries are actually going straight to Australia. He says they shipped 25,000 boxes just this year. Both sides say the new arrangement is good for everyone.

"They're coming at a different time to when our cherries are ready because of the difference in the climate, being in the southern hemisphere. And that can only grow the whole market but for our growers, but also for your growers here in the U.S.," says Dr. Chris Parker, Minister-Counsellor at the Australian Embassy.

"…Australia is a 15 to 20 million dollar market for our growers in this state. So, it's critical," says Washington State Fruit Commission President B.J. Thurlby.

Parker says pest and disease issues are the reason it's taken so long to open Western Australia. They say they are still working on deals to export more kinds of fruit there, but it takes time to negotiate such deals.