Georgia producers and industry leaders had their turn to testify on Thursday during a virtual hearing with the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office about unfair trade practices with Mexico. The hearings provided the U.S. Department of Commerce and Trump Administration an opportunity to hear from growers in Georgia about the urgent need for federal action regarding unfair trade.
This was the second virtual hearing following the one on Aug. 13 involving Florida farmers.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black believes a fair, healthy trade agreement is what is needed.
What is Needed?
Farmers discussed trade practices about various produce such as blueberries, pecans, blackberries and cucumbers and how the future of the American farmer is at stake. Most farmers called for a 301 investigation into Mexico.
Adam Rabinowitz, Auburn University Assistant Professor and Extension Economist, explained that a 301 Investigation is part of the Trade Act of 1974 and allows the U.S. to engage in trade activity, whether it be trade agreements but also resolving trade disputes. The idea was that the U.S. could access foreign markets but also that domestic markets were not impacted.
An investigation could lead to the U.S. imposing trade sanctions such as tariffs which would increase prices of inexpensive Mexican imports, in particular the fruit and vegetable crops, that are difficult for Southeast producers to compete against and were reasons that hearings were necessary in the first place.
The list of speakers included Congressmen Austin Scott (GA-08) and Buddy Carter (GA-01); Georgia Ag Commissioner Gary Black; Gerald Long, Georgia Farm Bureau Federation; Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association; as well as various farmers, including Russ Goodman (Cogdell Berry Farm), Sam Watson (Chill C Farms) and Bill Brim (Lewis Taylor Farms, Inc.).