U.S. tree fruit exporters dodged a bullet with news that the U.S. and Brazil agreed to negotiate a settlement over the cotton dispute.

Before the announcement April 6, tariffs were set to rise on April 8 from 10% to 30% for U.S. exports of fresh cherries, pears and plums to Brazil.

The commodities were among a list of more than 100 U.S. items approved for new tariffs by Brazil’s Council of Ministers of the Chamber of External Trade a month ago.

All together, the tariffs would have totaled near $600 million a year.  The World Trade Organization approved the tariffs because Brazil argued and the WTO agreed U.S. cotton subsidies violated world trade rules.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the agreement respects the role the Congress plays in shaping commodity programs.

“I look forward to working with Congress and Brazil to crafting a long-term, mutually-agreeable solution to this dispute that meets the needs of American farmers, workers and consumers,” Vilsack said in the release.

Chris Schlect, president of the Yakima, Wash.-based Northwest Horticultural Council, said tree fruit interests are pleased about the news.

“We were in the potential crossfire of an issue not of our making,” he said.  “We were quite pleased that the team that went down to Brazil from the U.S. was successful — if not solving the issue — at least getting on the road to some resolution,” Schlect said.

Under the agreement, the U.S. will provide $147.3 million per year in technical assistance and capacity building in Brazil until the next farm bill or until a mutually agreed solution to the cotton dispute is reached, whichever is sooner.

The U.S. also agreed to publish a proposed rule by April 16 to recognize Brazil’s Santa Catarina state as free of hoof and mouth disease and various other diseases and pests and to complete an evaluation whether fresh beef can be imported from Brazil.