Georgia vegetable producer Sam Watson may not be a blueberry farmer, but he had a vested interest in the International Trade Commission’s recent decision regarding the impact of blueberry imports.
Watson, like his farming brethren, was disappointed that the ITC did not find that imports do have a significant injury to the domestic industry.
“It’s just really frustrating and disheartening. We all know what’s happening,” Watson said. “I’m just afraid corporate America, these corporate farms and politics have played a big role in it.”
The decision was made despite staggering statistical evidence of how the rise of imports in previous years from countries like Mexico has led to diminished prices.
Another ITC Hearing
Watson, managing partner of Chill C Farms in Colquitt County, Georgia, produces squash, zucchini, bell pepper, cabbage, eggplant and cucumbers. Squash and cucumbers are scheduled for a similar hearing with the ITC on April 8.
The future of the American farmers is at stake with these hearings. With all of the competitive advantages that Mexico has, how can Southeast farmers compete? They can’t, says Watson.
“When you go to talk about the regulatory side, the labor side, the subsidy side, the fact that they can just outright do it cheaper than we can … it doesn’t matter how much is coming because they’re just going to eventually put us out anyway. They can just do it cheaper,” Watson said.
The USITC is currently seeking input for two additional investigations regarding the impact of imported cucumbers and squashes on the U.S. seasonal markets. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) requested the investigations in a letter. The USITC will hold a public virtual hearing regarding the investigations on April 8 at 9:30 a.m.