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United States leaders scrutinize Mexico’s ag trade practices

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The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Commerce released a report outlining the Trump Administration’s plan to address the threat posed by increased foreign imports to American producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables.

The plan follows public hearings held in August where more than 60 witnesses testified, in addition to over 300 written submissions.

“President Trump recognizes the challenges faced by American farmers and is committed to promoting and securing fair trade and a level playing field for all American producers. Secretary Perdue, Secretary Ross, and I are fully engaged in this effort. We would like to thank all of the elected officials, agricultural leaders, and dozens of farmers who participated in these hearings and helped make this plan a priority,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

USTR will pursue senior-level government-to-government discussions with Mexico over the next 90 days to address U.S. industry concerns regarding U.S. imports of Mexican strawberries, bell peppers, and other seasonal and perishable products.

The Department of Commerce will establish an outreach program to connect with Southeastern and other growers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables, to enhance understanding of applicable trade remedy laws and processes. 

Finally, the Department of Agriculture will increase targeted outreach to producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables to maximize the use of existing Department of Agriculture programs. To read the full plan, click here.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said, “I appreciate the USTR’s recognition of the decades-long suffering endured by both Florida and America’s seasonal producers due to unfair Mexican trade practices — this is another step towards making an impact on this major problem. After hearing testimony from farmers struggling every day to compete, the urgency of this issue cannot be denied.”

Last month, Commissioner Fried and FDACS released a report highlighting the up to $3.7 billion in Florida farm losses due to unfair trade from 2000-2019. The report can be viewed in full here, top findings include:

  • Mexico has expanded their share of the U.S. domestic market by 217 percent since 2000 — while Florida’s market share dropped by 40 percent
  • Mexico’s seasonal crop imports have increased by 551 percent from 2000 to 2019
  • An $11 billion gap exists between Mexican agricultural-exports and Florida’s total agricultural market value
  • Florida producers lost sales of up to 20 percent due to Mexico’s agricultural export expansion since 2000. This accounts for up to$3.7 billion in total economic losses for Florida’s economy, 37,180 lost jobs in Florida, $205 million in lost indirect tax revenue for Florida’s economy, $2.2 billion in annual losses of Florida cash receipts to multiple agricultural sectors, and 20 Florida commodities examined experienced declines in market share, while 13 Mexican commodities increased their share by 100% or more
Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
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