Tallahassee, Fla. – The U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) investigations into the impact that imports of squash and cucumbers have had on seasonal growers generated responses from various industry leaders in Florida; starting with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
“The ITC reports confirm what our department’s reports have long shown and what Florida’s seasonal producers have long felt: unfair trade practices being employed by Mexico and others are devastating the domestic market, putting local farmers out of business and risking the security of our domestic food supply,” said Fried. “While Florida has been the hardest hit and Mexico has been the worst offender, seasonal producers across the United States are being impacted by similar unfair trade perpetrated by several foreign markets. This harm is also not isolated to our squash and cucumber growers, as a large number of other domestic perishable produce sectors have sustained similar, if not greater, harm due to Mexico’s unrelenting volume increases.
The ITC reports confirm unfair trade practices fueled the explosive growth of Mexican fruit and vegetable imports, demonstrating a need for the federal government to provide timely and effective relief for impacted farmers in Florida and other seasonal crop states. Fried testified before the ITC last April and provided two reports from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) showing a surge in foreign imports of fresh and chilled cucumbers and squash, predominantly from Mexico. Imports caused an estimated 2,721 lost jobs, $944 million in lost cash receipts, and $1.85 billion in negative economic impact for Florida’s domestic produce growers since 2015.
“The ITC reports are just the latest economic studies that have shown the devastating trend of surging imports costing the domestic market and risking the domestic food supply,” Fried continued. “The need could not be more clear, and the timing could not be more urgent for the federal government to use all tools available to enact an effective and enforceable action plan to stem the onslaught of these imports and the unfair trade and labor practices being employed by foreign competitors. The survival of our domestic industry and the security of our food supply are at stake.”
Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association Response
Mike Joyner, president of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, also responded to the investigations.
“Our U.S.-grown food supply is at risk,” said Joyner. “Skyrocketing imports of Mexican fruits and vegetables due to unfair trade practices continue to cripple growers in the Southeast. While we commend the International Trade Commission for working to help solve this longstanding and growing threat to the Southeast produce industry, now is the time to act. Immediate, effective, swift relief is needed to give our Florida produce growers a future and ensure that a U.S.-grown produce supply is available to American families during the fall, winter and spring months of the year.”