WASHINGTON – The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on Sunday that it will pursue avenues to assist the Southeast seasonal produce industry in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) after Members of Congress requested an examination of certain issues in a Sept. 8, 2022, Section 301 petition.
Southeast producers have faced challenges, which have only intensified since Hurricane Ian made landfall earlier this month. USTR will establish a private-sector industry advisory panel to recommend measures to promote the competitiveness of producers of seasonal and perishable produce in the southeastern United States. USTR and USDA will work with the advisory panel and members of Congress to develop possible administrative actions and legislation that would provide real benefits to this struggling industry.
The Section 301 petition, which was filed on Sept. 8, 2022, by certain members of Florida’s Congressional delegation, alleged that the Government of Mexico has adopted an “export targeting” scheme aimed at Florida produce. The 301 statute requires that USTR make a decision on whether to move forward with an investigation within 45 days. The statute also includes a private-sector advisory panel as a specific response to export targeting.
Although USTR could not conclude in the 45-day statutory period that a formal 301 investigation would be effective and is not opening an investigation at this time, USTR is moving forward with an advisory panel. USTR and USDA will work with the petitioners and producers to examine the issues raised in the petition and to consider any further actions that may be appropriate. USTR will publish a formal notice in the Federal Register summarizing USTR’s response to the petition.