March 21, 2019 - 12:00pm
This week, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., continued to push against Mexico produce imports as the congressman insisted farmers in the Sunshine State were being undermined due to “unfair trade practices" and “unfair subsidies and illegal seasonal dumping.”
Buchanan held an event with the Florida Farm Bureau on Tuesday and he took aim at Mexico’s policies.
“Today’s visit showed that Florida growers continue to be harmed by Mexico’s unfair trade practices,” said Buchanan.
“Over the past five to 10 years, the Mexican government has gifted their agriculture sector with illegal subsidies to grow produce destined for U.S. consumers. And Mexican growers have dumped less-than-fair-value products into our markets. As a result, Florida has lost between $1 billion to $3 billion annually,” Buchanan’s office noted.
Buchanan also showcased his proposal to protect specialty crop growers from competition from Mexico.
Back in October, Buchanan, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and then U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., unveiled the “Agricultural Trade Improvement Act" which would adjust the Tariff Act of 1930 to “allow American specialty crop growers to request the imposition of antidumping or countervailing duties.” Back in January Rubio, Buchanan and Lawson brought out the "Defending Domestic Produce Production Act," a similar proposal which would ease certain thresholds to allow Florida farmers to petition the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate illegal subsidies and dumping of Mexican fruits and vegetables in the U.S. market.”
“Current law requires petitioners to demonstrate harm as measured from a nationwide and year-round perspective,” Buchanan’s office noted about the proposal. “This bill would acknowledge the unique circumstances of seasonal fruit and vegetable producers who are directly harmed by Mexico’s practices in various geographic regions during different seasons, including Florida growers during the winter months.”
“Our beleaguered growers continue to be harmed by Mexico’s unfair subsidies and illegal seasonal dumping,” Buchanan said when the bill was brought out. “This legislation will level the playing field for a vital industry to Florida’s economy.”
Buchanan promised to continue to push the bill on Tuesday.
“I will continue to push for my bill to provide Florida farmers with the necessary tools to make the case that Mexico is selling produce at unfairly low prices and urge Congress and the Trump administration to protect them in future trade negotiations.”
“Rep. Buchanan’s Defending Domestic Produce Production Act equips our seasonal and perishable industry with a workable mechanism to address unfair trade practices,” said Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick. “A solution is long overdue, and it’s time we stand up for free and fair trade for our Florida farmers. We commend the congressman for his leadership, and look forward to working with the state delegation to encourage support.”
Almost 100,000 residents of the Sunshine State work in agriculture, adding more than $12 billion a year to Florida’s economy. Since 2000, agriculture products imported from Mexico have cost Florida between $1-$3 billion.