By Clint Thompson
A Florida produce farmer is the latest to voice his concern over the impact Mexican imports are having on American farmers.
Will Hyatt, who farms bell peppers and cantaloupes in Lake Wales, Florida, said there are multiple reasons consumers should buy domestic. He also believes the idea of fair trade is a fantasy and not reality.
“I farmed in Mexico, and I know what it’s like. I know what the labor is like, and I know what the regulations are like; know Mexican government regulators are open to bribes to overlook or even assist violators,” Hyatt said. “To tell me, we have to compete against that, it’s not really fair. I think we can out-compete Mexico and Central America in a fair market if we have a fair regulatory market.
“If we could trade labor and trade resources, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
Florida blueberry farmer Ryan Atwood confirmed that just last week, Mexico exported 5 million pounds of blueberries into the U.S. last week. This happened despite it being the peak harvest season for Georgia, one of the country’s leading producers of blueberries.
According to the USDA, U.S. agricultural imports from Mexico equaled $25.9 billion in 2018.
What can change?
Hyatt believes nothing will change until voters make their voices known.
“Farmers are conservative as a rule, politically. The vast majority of us are conservative. But we are the first one to scream, please help us government when Mexico ships out a bunch of products. When the answer to me is to educate our fellow countrymen,” Hyatt said. “At the end of the day, our fellow countrymen vote with their dollars to purchase products that are produced internationally above purchasing domestically produced products. The farmers are a very small percentage of the community that will pay a price for that. At some point the greater population will pay a much steeper price, in my opinion.”