From the Editor’s Desk: Help for Farmers Is On the Way

From the Editor’s Desk: Help for Farmers Is On the Way

If there’s one thing we’ve learned so far this year, it’s the fact that good news can get buried under the COVID-19 chaos. In this case, the news was not only notable, but its impact could be far-reaching.

On Sept. 1, the Trump administration announced that it plans to address the threat  posed by unfair trade practices and increased imports from Mexico. 

This is a monumental win for specialty crop farmers in Florida who have battled the impacts of Mexican imports for decades under first the North American Free-Trade Agreement and then the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. 

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried cautiously welcomed the news, saying, “I appreciate the USTR’s recognition of the decades-long suffering endured by both Florida and America’s seasonal producers due to unfair Mexican trade practices — this is another step towards making an impact on this major problem.”

The announcement was preceded by impassioned pleas from two days of virtual public hearings during which Florida and Georgia farmers, trade groups and elected officials detailed the personal hardships they’ve faced as a result of Mexico’s relaxed safety standards, lower labor costs and government subsidies.

Recently, Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released a report saying Mexico has expanded its share of the U.S. domestic market by a whopping 217 percent since 2000. Florida, on the other hand, saw its market value drop by 40 percent. In addition, the report says Mexican seasonal crop imports into the U.S. have increased by 551 percent since 2000.

To learn more about the administration’s plan to address trade inequities, go to: https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2020/september/federal-agencies-outline-plan-help-farmers-seasonal-and-perishable-fruits-and-vegetables