MAITLAND, FL (Sept. 1, 2020) – The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association commended the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce on Tuesday for their plan to begin remedying the immense harm to produce growers in Florida and elsewhere caused by unfair trade practices and harmful import volumes from Mexico and other foreign sources.
“As (Tuesday’s) announcement makes clear, this plan will launch the first – but not the last – steps needed to solve this longstanding and growing threat to the produce industry in Florida and elsewhere,” said FFVA President Mike Joyner. “The unfair trading practices and harm to our industry, which are exhaustively documented in (Tuesday’s) report and on the record, demand a timely, effective and lasting solution.”
After listening during two August hearings to industry leaders and producers from Florida, Georgia and other states, the three agencies on Tuesday unveiled a report on the hearings and a plan to support producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables.The plan outlines the specific actions each agency will take. Among other things, the USTR will pursue “senior-level government-to-government discussions with Mexico over the next 90 days to address U.S. industry concerns regarding U.S. imports of Mexican strawberries, bell peppers and other seasonal and perishable products.”
In addition, USTR will ask the International Trade Commission to initiate a Section 201 investigation into whether increased imports of blueberries have seriously harmed U.S. blueberry growers. During the hearings, industry leaders and producers pointed to a heavily subsidized Mexican produce industry and unfair pricing practices as primary causes of the decline in Florida’s market share and production during the past 20 years. Researchers from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the University of Florida testified about data showing explosive growth in imports of Mexican fruit and vegetable crops to the United States since 2000.
More Work to do
FFVA will continue to coordinate closely with the Administration and elected officials during the negotiations and other proceedings announced (Tuesday) to deliver the trade relief that Florida specialty crop growers need and deserve.
“Mexico and other foreign suppliers should be on notice that all of our affected fruit and vegetable sectors, working with the Administration and elected officials, are committed to ensuring that every trade remedy tool available is used to correct the unreasonable foreign trade practices that have caused persistent losses in market share and revenue, shuttered farms, and growing job losses throughout our state,” Joyner said. “We won’t allow our industry’s survival to continue hanging in the balance, and we intend to solve this longstanding problem once and for all.”
Joyner expressed appreciation to Florida’s congressional delegation for its leadership and unanimous commitment.
“The fact that every member of Florida’s congressional delegation – the third largest in the country – has remained united in strong support of Florida producers on this issue demonstrates the importance of agriculture to Florida. We are thankful for their unwavering support.”