Congress seeks ways to aid Florida’s struggling agriculture industry

The COVID-19 outbreak caused many farmers in Florida to plow under their crops for an estimated loss of more than $500 million, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

It seems that US specialty crop producers continue to be undercut by high volumes of low-priced Mexican produce. This is the result of the prevailing trade environment, which has persisted over the past several decades. A statement to this effect was made by John Walt Boatright, Director of National Affairs for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. “This inequity was further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic as schools, businesses and restaurants shut down, leaving domestic producers with virtually no market on little notice.”

The office of US Representative Greg Steube wrote a letter last week to the US Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer asking to end unfair Mexican trade practices. Florida’s entire congressional delegation backed the letter.

During the initial coronavirus outbreak, from January to April, the Mexican produce industry increased its US market share by 17% while Florida farmers struggled, the letter stated. The letter called on Lighthizer to follow through with his commitment on January 9, 2020, when he wrote that he’d “compile documentation on trade distorting policies” that may be leading to unfair produce pricing.


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