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WTAS: Rubio, Colleagues Urge Administration to Defend All Farmers from Unfairly Traded Imports
Washington, D.C. — Earlier today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), and Al Lawson (D-FL) led a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives in a letter raising concerns to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer regarding the lack of progress in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) with respect to improved mechanisms to initiate and sustain legitimate anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) proceedings for trade in seasonal and perishable produce.
Senator Rubio and Representatives Buchanan and Lawson introduced legislation (S. 16 / H.R. 101) earlier this year to combat Mexico’s unfair trade practices.
“We must do all we can to ensure a level playing field for American fruit and vegetable growers competing against unfairly traded imports in our domestic market,” Senator Rubio (R-FL) said. “I urge the Administration to support my Defending Domestic Produce Production Act and take reasonable steps using existing authorities to allow U.S. seasonal and perishable growers to access the same legal avenues for seeking relief from import dumping as is already available to all other producers and manufacturers.”
“Fair, open and reciprocal trade is essential to America’s long-term economic success,” said Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA). “I intend to do everything I can to help facilitate a level playing field for trade and ensure that hardworking Americans have the tools necessary to address unfair trade practices. Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, and our fruit and vegetable farmers are currently far too vulnerable to illegal dumping and other targeted efforts that undermine their ability to cultivate and sell their products at home and abroad. As members of Congress, we’re asking that America’s farmers have a seat at the table and the ability to air their objections to unfair foreign trade practices in a fair and open way.”
“Agriculture is Georgia’s number one industry and a major reason why our state continues to be the best state in the country in which to do business,” said Senator David Perdue (R-GA). “The United States’ economy has evolved since NAFTA was signed nearly 25 years ago. As the Trump Administration works to get a better deal for American workers and businesses, we must ensure that farmers and growers are treated fairly and have equal access across the world. It’s critical that we gain a level playing field that will allow our agriculture industry to compete globally.”
“Florida farmers have been receiving the short end of the stick for far too long,” said Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL). “Free trade is important, but so is fair trade. I hope Ambassador Lighthizer will hear our bipartisan calls and take action to help level the playing field for Florida agriculture.”
“Florida’s agriculture industry is unique and must be fully shielded from any attempts at manipulation within the Mexican agriculture markets,” said Congressman Lawson (D-FL). “The USMC should have provisions that fully protect Florida’s seasonal growers. I look forward to continuing to work with the Florida Delegation on this vital issue.”
“For decades, Florida seasonal fruit and vegetable growers have been the victims of cheap Mexican produce flooding the U.S. markets. These unfair trade practices cost our growers billions of dollars, threatening our state’s place as one of the top agricultural producers in the country. We must ensure a level playing field for Florida’s agricultural industry, allowing growers to fairly compete so they can expand their reach, and benefit our workers and small businesses,” said Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
“I am proud to stand in strong support with my colleagues in the Florida-Georgia delegations to ensure trade protections for seasonal and perishable producers,” said Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL). “While the USMCA is an improvement from NAFTA, this issue must be resolved before a vote is taken on the deal. If these trade protections are not addressed, I am concerned this issue will not be resolved any time soon, and our producers will continue to face the consequences.”
“Growers all across our Nation want a trade deal that is fair, equitable, and allows disputes to be resolved when they arise,” said Congressman Ross Spano (R-FL). “The Administration should accept nothing less than a trade deal that encompasses these foundational principles. Americans depend on a market free of illegal dumping to allow them to compete. I urge the Administration and Ambassador Lighthizer to consider these concerns in producing agreement text for Congressional review”
“I am glad for Senator Rubio’s leadership on this subject — protecting American farmers is a bipartisan issue,” said Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
“I’m proud to stand with the Florida delegation in calling out the unfair trade practices Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers have endured for too long,” said Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL). “As both countries discuss the details of the USMCA, we are encouraging United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to negotiate a better deal for the American workers growing and picking the produce that feeds America.”
“Florida’s growers aren’t afraid of competition – but the flooding of our markets with subsidized produce threatens Florida’s farms and American jobs,” said Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried. “NAFTA failed for 25 years to address the disastrous effects of unfair trade practices, and the USMCA appears to do no better. If we’re going to put America first, we need to start with a level playing field for the American growers who feed our families, communities, and nation. I support Senator Rubio’s bipartisan efforts to do that with the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act.”
“In Florida agriculture’s decades-long pursuit of free and fair trade, our farmers and ranchers have pleaded with Congress for an equitable solution that recognizes the unique vulnerability of our state’s fruit and vegetable growers,” said Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick. “That’s why we support Senator Rubio’s legislation, which tackles a critical deficiency in the current trade laws. We commend his leadership as well as the support of the entire Florida delegation on this critical issue.”
“Family farms that have operated for generations in Florida are closing their doors because of the unfair trading practices of the Mexican fruit and vegetable industry,” said Mike Joyner, President of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. “If they are to survive, Florida fruit and vegetable farmers need changes to the current trade laws that restore fairness in the market. We commend our members of Congress for their leadership, commitment and dedication to finding a solution that will provide critically needed trade relief for our growers.”
“Georgia and Southeastern produce growers must have some relief. We must have a level playing field to produce and compete,” said Charles Hall, President of the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association. “The Defending Domestic Produce Production Act (H.R. 101/S.16) will ensure growers have the relief mechanisms that recognize the unique characteristics of seasonal and perishable agriculture. Our thanks to those members of Congress cosponsoring this bill to ensure protection for our produce growers.”
“The Florida Strawberry Growers Association applauds the efforts and the leadership role of our Florida delegation in signing on to the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act as co-sponsors,” said FSGA President Kenneth Parker. “This critically important legislation will serve as a tool to redress longstanding unfair trade practices, and it gives us the opportunity to right a wrong that has been festering for 24 years.”
“Florida citrus growers produce the best product on the planet, and it is crucial they can compete on a level playing field in all markets – especially the United States,” said Michael W. Sparks, Executive Vice President and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, which represents more than 3,000 growers. “We are hopeful the Administration understands the importance of fair trade policies to U.S. producers of perishable products and enacts measures that ensure Mexico and all other countries are playing by the rules and not putting our own farmers at a disadvantage.”
“While most Georgia blueberry farmers support the efforts of President Trump and his administration on behalf of our country, the current USMCA agreement contains no provision that we can support,” said Jerome Crosby, Chairman of the Georgia Blueberry Commodity Commission. “Imported fruit from South America and Mexico are as detrimental to our farm income as a natural disaster if not restricted. Absent some form of protection from these imports, it is likely many small Georgia blueberry farmers will be forced out of business much like what has happened to the tomato farmers in Florida.”