(FDACS/Tallahassee, FL/Sept. 15, 2022) — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried wrote to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai in support of the September 8th petition filed by members of Florida’s bipartisan delegation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 requesting the administration conduct an investigation into the flood of imported seasonal and perishable agricultural products from Mexico. Commissioner Fried shared with Ambassador Tai a recent report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) that documents the decades-long economic harm to Florida growers due to the expansion of Mexican imports, causing estimated lost sales of 10-20 percent, 17,408-34,816 lost jobs, and a negative impact of $1.94 – $3.89 billion to the economy overall.
“As you can imagine, after experiencing losses year after year due to such unfair foreign trade practices with no remedies accessible to our seasonal producers, we have seen more and more of our farms shutter their operations. Without relief, the future of our state’s second largest industry and the 2.4 million jobs it supports is at risk,” Commissioner Fried wrote. “Beyond the negative economic impact, this also poses a risk to the strength and security of our domestic food supply – a troubling matter of national security. Given the Biden Administration’s commitment to bolstering domestic supply chains, supporting American agriculture, and combatting unfair trade, we look forward to continuing to work with your office and other federal partners to provide timely and effective relief for our domestic seasonal produce industry and are hopeful that you will move forward with a Section 301 investigation as bipartisan members of the Florida Congressional Delegation have requested.”
Commissioner Fried remains an outspoken advocate for the domestic seasonal produce industry, continuously calling for timely and effective relief for farmers in Florida and across the United States since taking office in 2019. In August 2020, Commissioner Fried testified at a virtual hearing held by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Commerce, presenting a major report, which was also shared today with Secretary Vilsack, showing the economic harm these trade distorting policies are having on Florida farmers and our economy overall.
Following the August 2020 hearing, the same three federal agencies outlined a plan to help the domestic seasonal produce industry, and Commissioner Fried reiterated her commitment to holding the administration accountable for delivering enforceable protections and access to relief for Florida’s farmers. Since that time, the non-partisan U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) launched multiple investigations into the impacts of increased foreign imports on several seasonal crops. Commissioner Fried testified at the USITC hearings on its investigations into blueberries, cucumbers and squash. She also provided comments to the USITC on its strawberry and bell pepper investigation since no formal hearing was held. Commissioner Fried continues to work closely with Florida’s specialty crop growers and members of Congress demanding protections for the domestic seasonal produce industry.