The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association says yesterday’s International Trade Commission hearing on the effect of imports on the U.S. Cucumber and Squash Industries was a positive development in the ongoing efforts to secure trade relief for Florida growers. For decades, the FFVA says unfair trade practices from Mexico and other foreign sources have caused immense harm to produce growers in Florida, including significant lost sales and market share, unsustainably low unfair prices and shuttered family farms.
The FFVA says trade relief is desperately needed, not only for cucumber and squash growers, but for bell pepper, strawberry, blueberry and other Florida produce sectors also facing harmful impacts and a highly uncertain future due to imports. It says it continues to see imports from Mexico crippling growers of more than 20 other specialty crops in Florida.
The association commends the International Trade Commission for working to help solve a longstanding, growing threat to the Southeast produce industry. It says effective, swift relief is needed to give Florida produce growers a future and ensure that American families are not dependent on foreign imports for their produce supplies during the winter and spring months of the year.
Testimony excerpts from the FFVA and Florida growers include:
- “Without an immediate remedy to Mexico’s unfair trade practices, farming operations will continue to shut down and Americans will be forced to rely on a foreign country for our fruits and vegetables during the winter and spring months. No one wants to see that happen. ”–Marie Bedner, owner of Bedner Farms, Inc., a family-owned operation that has farmed bell peppers and cucumbers in Palm Beach County and Martin County since 1950
- “While there is a role for imports to play in helping to feed our country, it must be done on a level playing field when U.S. produce is in season. We must stabilize domestic supply and enforce fair trade. ”–Richard “Dick” Bowman, a fourth-generation farmer in southeast Florida and the vice-president of farming and grower development for J&J Family of Farms
- “Because the Florida produce industry shares the same growing season as Mexico, our producers have faced crippling impacts from Mexico’s increased volume and race-to-the-bottom prices. We need prompt relief if our country hopes to continue feeding Americans domestically grown fruits and vegetables in the fall, winter and spring months.”–Mike Joyner, president, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association