USMCA will be major issue for Florida blueberry growers

Currently, every nickel counts for American blueberry growers, and that’s likely to be even more true in light of President Donald Trump’s latest trade deal. On Tuesday, House Democrats reached consensus on supporting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a modern renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a tweet by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Some say it is a bad deal for Florida berry growers. Under NAFTA, growers were already losing in the fight against ever-dwindling prices of berries imported from across the southern border in Mexico. Growers blame the lack of protections for specialty crops in the 25-year-old trade agreement as a culprit in the decline of American-grown tomatoes about 10 years ago. Now, South-eastern growers are sounding the same alarm to save homegrown blueberries.

The USMCA -or as some call it ‘NAFTA 2.0’- was among Trump’s  2016 presidential campaign promises. After signing the document last November, he took to Twitter to tout the benefits of the new deal “for all.” On Tuesday, he reiterated online that the deal is “Good for everybody – Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions.”

But South-eastern berry growers say otherwise. The USMCA, if ratified by Congress by the end of the month, will ensure that an already bad situation for berry farmers will grow worse in 2020. In Florida, some even face the risk of having to close berry farms on which their families have toiled for five or six generations.

If so, come next November, Trump may lose something a lot of support among Florida growers.

Some growers view the USMCA as a failed promise by Trump, one made during his campaign to prioritize fair trade and U.S. labor in the eventual redrafting of NAFTA. Others lay the blame beyond the Oval Office; growers fault the elected administration under Trump, certain federal government agencies and a handful of American companies that have monopolized the domestic berry market.

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