02/02/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/02/2023 08:28
WASHINGTON - Congressman Vern Buchanan today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help Florida fruit and vegetable growers combat Mexico's unfair trade practices.
"Illegal seasonal dumping and unfair Mexican trade practices are crippling Florida's fruit and vegetable growers,"said Buchanan. "It's time to level the playing field and protect hardworking Florida farmers and our vital produce industry."
From 2000 to 2020, Florida's fruit and vegetable growers have suffered from a 580 percent increase in produce imports from Mexico to the U.S. Mexican produce is often imported at a fraction of the cost of production, referred to as "seasonal dumping." This has led to economic losses of up to $4 billion a year to the state economy and costs seasonal growers between $1.31 and $2.63 billion in sales annually.
Under current law, only growers who can demonstrate a nationwide, year-round impact of unfair trade practices can seek relief from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission, leaving seasonal, regional growers with nowhere to turn. The Defending Domestic Produce Production Act would give seasonal fruit and vegetable growers the ability to petition the federal government and get relief from unabated foreign imports.
Congressman Darren Soto said, "As Florida growers face significant economic losses, it is crucial for us to stand with them and work to find solutions. I'm proud to work with Congressman Buchanan on this legislation to help our farmers get relief."
Companion legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.)
Rubio said,"We must ensure the viability of Florida's fruit and vegetable growers, who for years have struggled to compete with dumped and unfairly priced Mexican imports. I firmly believe that food security is national security, and that to ensure our nation's food security we must defend our food producers from malicious trade practices that are intended to undermine our self-reliance."
This bipartisan, bicameral legislation has been endorsed by the Florida Farm Bureau and the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.
Jeb S. Smith, president of the Florida Farm Bureau said, "We applaud U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto for their bold leadership to reintroduce the Defending Domestic Produce Protection Act. This commitment will protect the competitiveness and marketability of Florida grown fruits and vegetables. Our family farms will continue to struggle until our federal policymakers recognize that jeopardizing our food production is a threat to our nation's food security. We will fight for a level playing field to combat unfair trade practices so that Florida farms remain viable."
Mike Joyner, president of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, "Volumes of unfairly priced produce imported from foreign suppliers continue to soar at an alarming rate, putting extreme pressure on Florida growers of fresh fruits and vegetables and forcing many out of business. Solutions like those presented in The Defending Domestic Produce Production Act will combat the flood of produce imports entering the U.S. market, helping to level the playing field for Florida growers and ensure a strong domestic food supply. We appreciate the continued leadership of Congressman Buchanan, as well as the entire Florida congressional delegation, on this important issue and look forward to continuing our work together to identify desperately needed trade mechanisms. Without relief, the very survival of the entire Southeastern produce industry is at stake, and with it, our national security."
Buchanan serves on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act. He previously served as the top Republican on the Trade Subcommittee from Jan. 2019 to Jan. 2022, where he oversaw the successful passage and implementation of the landmark United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which modernized and rebalanced the United States' critical trading relationship with our North American neighbors. USMCA set the gold standard for future U.S. trade agreements, providing significant economic boosts to customs and trade facilitation services, agriculture and digital trade.
International trade is critical to Buchanan's home state of Florida, where exports and imports support 2.5 million jobs.