Every year, millions of tons of fresh produce cross the border from Mexico into the US. Now, legislators in Florida are proposing a bill they say would protect US produce growers from unfair Mexican trade practices. Opponents say it would be bad for consumers.
The bill was proposed last week by Republican Senator Rubio of Florida along with Representatives Vern Buchanan and Al Lawson, also of Florida. The legislation -the ‘Defending Domestic Produce Production Act’ - would make it easier for US growers to petition the government to investigate imported produce that is being illegally subsidized or sold for less than the cost of production, known as dumping.
But while that might look good for Florida produce growers, it’s bad for the rest of the country, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales, Arizona.
“They’ve had opportunities, I think, to try to adapt technologies and improve their business model and they haven’t taken advantage of it,” he said of Florida's producers. “And that brings us to the Rubio bill where they’re trying to essentially legislate themselves to profitability as opposed to being able to compete in the open market.”
According to Jungmeyer, the bill would likely cause other countries to retaliate with similar measures. And Americans could end up paying more for produce.
Fronterasdesk.org quoted Juan Laborín, director general of the Sonoran table grape association as saying he agreed that the measure would hit shoppers hardest: “The less produce that comes from Mexico, the more expensive the produce is going to be in the states. It’s going to help the growers, yes, but it really hits, pokes a hole in the pocket of the consumer.”