Yesterday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried made the following statement in response to reports released last week by the non-partisan U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) concerning the effect of imports on the domestic seasonal squash and cucumber markets. The ITC reports confirm unfair practices have fueled the explosive growth of Mexican fruit and vegetable imports resulting in grave harm to American producers, demonstrating a clear need for the federal government to provide timely and effective relief for impacted farmers in Florida and other seasonal crop states.
Last April, Commissioner Fried testified before the ITC and provided two reports from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) showing a surge in foreign imports of fresh and chilled cucumbers and squash, predominantly from Mexico, has caused an estimated 2,721 lost jobs, $944 million in lost cash receipts, and $1.85 billion in negative economic impact for Florida’s domestic produce growers since 2015. The ITC directly cited the FDACS findings in its official reports on squash and cucumbers, validating the continued findings by the Department as to continued harmful impacts of unfair foreign trade on the domestic industry, with its most recent report finding a nearly $4 billion economic impact on Florida due to Mexican imports alone.
“The ITC reports confirm what our Department’s reports have long shown and what Florida’s seasonal producers have long felt: unfair trade practices being employed by Mexico and others are devastating the domestic market, putting local farmers out of business and risking the security of our domestic food supply,” said Commissioner Fried. “While Florida has been the hardest hit and Mexico has been the worst offender, seasonal producers across the United States are being impacted by similar unfair trade perpetrated by several foreign markets. This harm is also not isolated to our squash and cucumber growers, as a large number of other domestic perishable produce sectors have sustained similar, if not greater, harm due to Mexico’s unrelenting volume increases.
“The ITC reports are just the latest economic studies that have shown the devastating trend of surging imports costing the domestic market and risking the domestic food supply,” Commissioner Fried continued. “The need could not be more clear and the timing could not be more urgent for the federal government to use all tools available to enact an effective and enforceable action plan to stem the onslaught of these imports and the unfair trade and labor practices being employed by foreign competitors. The survival of our domestic industry and the security of our food supply are at stake.”
For more information: fdacs.gov