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ICYMI: Rubio: Washington Must Help Florida Growers

Jun 22, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington Must Help Florida Growers
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
June 22, 2021
Palm Beach Post

Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers raise and harvest some of the best produce in the world, but they are struggling to survive in the face of unfair, market-distorting trade practices by Mexican importers.

It’s a ridiculous problem, especially considering the pivotal role that Florida fulfills in providing food to the rest of the country. Florida is not just pristine beaches. It is the nation’s biggest producer of several popular seasonal products, including tomatoes and squash, and second when it comes to others like bell peppers and strawberries…

So what exactly is causing the problem? For the past 25 years, due in large part to the failed NAFTA trade agreement, the Mexican government has invested heavily in mass agriculture with the goal of seizing the U.S. market… Worse, Mexico has illegally engaged in a practice known as “dumping,” flooding large quantities of subsidized produce into our markets to further drive down prices.

The harm to Florida’s farmers — which, unlike most in our nation, share a growing season with Mexican producers and thus directly compete with their dumped and unfairly priced products — has been immense…  Between 2000 and 2019, Florida has seen its share of the U.S. market reduced by 40%, while Mexico, fueled by government subsidies, low-wage labor, and unfairly priced high-volume imports, increased its share by a staggering 217%.

Recent events have only underscored the critical importance of a secure domestic food supply. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and the lockdowns it caused, Florida’s growers have suffered as imports of Mexican fruits and vegetables have surged to record levels, seizing an even larger share of the market

This week, I reintroduced my bicameral and bipartisan Defending Domestic Produce Act, which would ensure that U.S. trade law is applicable to seasonal fruit and vegetable growers to petition the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission in order to secure relief from unfair trade practices…

I am hopeful that the administration, including the newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative, will make good on their commitment to work with Congress to find a solution. The federal government must take action to end Mexico’s trade aggression because if they fail to do so, Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers will vanish. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that America should become more self-reliant, not less. A failure to address trade disparities with Mexico would not only be profoundly destructive for our farmers in Florida but would also pose a grave threat to our nation’s food security and national security. 

Our growers need relief now.

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