Aug 16, 2018
NAFTA seasonality reforms a hope for Florida, Georgia

Increased protection from seasonal Mexican imports remains a hope for growers in Florida and Georgia.

In an Aug. 8 open letter of support to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a number of trade groups in the two states thanked him for advocating during NAFTA negotiations for seasonality reforms called for under the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (TPAA).

According to the groups’ letter:

“As the Administration has widely recognized, the seasonal and perishable sectors in the US Southeast have suffered more than most under the original NAFTA. Nearly all of the United States’ $5 billion agricultural trade deficit with Mexico is in perishable fruits and vegetables sector, where Mexico has captured its growth by using unfair U.S. pricing practices during the marketing periods it shares with our produce farmers in the Southeast. Because the original NAFTA failed to provide our specialty crop producers in Florida and Georgia with fair recourse against these practices, our industry’s hemorrhaging losses and farm closures have now reached a tipping point.

“In Florida alone, several multi-generational operations have only recently announced that they will not be opening their doors this fall, and a great many additional farm closures are expected in the near future. If any new NAFTA agreement again fails to modernize US import relief mechanisms to allow viable trade recourse against Mexican seasonal produce, we will soon have virtually no specialty crop sector left in the U.S. Southeast.”

TPAA calls for protecting seasonal U.S. Agriculture in a few different ways:

  • “eliminating practices that adversely affect trade in perishable or cyclical products, while improving import relief mechanisms to recognize the unique characteristics of perishable and cyclical agriculture”;
  • “ensuring that import relief mechanisms for perishable and cyclical agriculture are as accessible and timely to growers in the United States as those mechanisms that are used by other countries”; and
  • “seeking to develop an international consensus on the treatment of seasonal or perishable agricultural products in investigations relating to dumping and safeguards and in any other relevant area.”

The Aug. 8 letter was signed by the Eastern Cantaloupe Growers Association, the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Florida Tomato Exchange, Florida Watermelon Association, Georgia Blueberry Growers Association, Georgia Farm Bureau Federation, Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and Georgia Watermelon Association.

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