Last week, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management and Trade urging Congress to address unfair foreign trade practices causing decades-long harm to Florida farmers and the lack of protections for the domestic seasonal produce industry.
“Our state’s fruit and vegetable farming industry alone supports 68,700 jobs and creates $5 billion in annual cash receipts. In this time of heightened food insecurity both at home and abroad and with food costs skyrocketing, protecting the domestic food supply chain is a matter of national security. Our producers work tirelessly to feed our families and communities; we need to have their backs,” wrote Commissioner Fried.
“Passing the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act (H.R. 3926 and S. 2080) is something that Congress can and should take up without further delay to protect the strength of our domestic industry while we continue to work together to navigate the current challenges facing the industry,” she concluded.
She specifically noted the damaging impact of Mexican imports during Florida’s market window.
“Florida and Mexico share a growing season given our sub-tropical climates. The Mexican government’s agricultural subsidies – in addition to their lower labor and environmental safety standards — allow Mexican producers to dump artificially low-priced products into the U.S. market,” she testified. “In 2021, these Mexican imports increased drastically. My department found that since 2000, Florida’s share of the domestic U.S. market has plunged 40%, while Mexico’s has expanded by 217%. In 2020, U.S. imports of Mexican grown strawberries increased 27%, other berries increased 17%, bell peppers increased 16%, and that is only to name a few.”