by Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who may be getting closer to announcing a bid for governor, continued lambasting the North American Free Trade Agreement this week as President Donald Trump backed off, for now, on withdrawing the U.S. from the pact.
Putnam’s office said Wednesday he has implored U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about the need to investigate Mexico for unfair trade practices — dumping fruits and vegetables on the U.S. market — to the detriment of Florida farmers.
“I urge you to initiate an investigation into Mexico’s unfair trade practices, which have allowed Mexican producers of specialty crops to — in a matter of 20 years — become the dominant supplier ofspecialty crops into the U.S. market,” Putnam wrote in a letter dated April 19. “These unfair trade practices have resulted in the continued decline of domestic production of these crops, which play such an important role in our diets and ensure the proper nutrition and development of Americans of all ages.”
Such a request from Putnam isn’t unexpected, as his rhetoric on the issue has been growing.
At the Strawberry Salute Breakfast in Plant City last month, Putnam went after the trade deal, talking of higher tariffs among possible options.
And last November, while Florida trade leaders expressed hope that Trump wouldn’t simply ditch NAFTA, Putnam decried the pact.
Putnam said at that time the most helpful thing Trump could do is enforce protections in the trade agreement that were supposed to keep American producers from being undercut through measures such as product dumping and currency manipulation.
“Prior administrations just didn’t enforce the letter of the treaty to begin with,” Putnam said. “Gosh, just that alone would be a step in the right direction.”
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