By Clint Thompson
Mexican imports of produce into the United States continues to be a problem for American farmers. They especially felt the sting this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Southeast growers had to overcome a declining market when restaurants and schools closed in March for fears of COVID-19. They also were overshadowed by the constant influx of Mexican produce.
“It’s insulting to the specialty crop growers who are suffering with COVID-19. It’s taken away markets. Then on top of that, we’ve got Mexican products coming in on top of us to drive the prices even further down,” said Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association.
Florida blueberry farmer Ryan Atwood attributed blueberry’s declining prices to Mexico. In a previous VSCNews story that was published on April 30, Atwood said Mexico had just shipped in 5 million pounds of blueberries the prior week.
Ironically, poor weather conditions in Mexico this year led to a low watermelon supply, which was confirmed by watermelon farmer Carr Hussey. This has led to a current watermelon shortage and higher prices for American watermelon farmers.
American farmers have voiced their concerns about unfair trade with Mexico. Blueberry farmer Russ Goodman said hourly pay in Mexico is around $1, much lower than the rate outlined in H-2A that American producers are on the hook for. Hopefully, that will soon be a thing of the past.
According to a prior AgNet West story, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will be ready to be put into effect on July 1.
“The crisis and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that now, more than ever, the United States should strive to increase manufacturing capacity and investment in North America,” Lighthizer said in a press release. “The USMCA’s entry into force is a landmark achievement in that effort.”
However, specialty crops groups have voiced their concern about the lack of support for the sector in the USMCA. Read more here.