Produce Importers: Domestic Growers’ Push For Protection Could Spell Higher Prices

Published: Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 5:34pm

A number of southeastern U.S. representatives are asking the federal government to protect domestic produce growers from Mexican imports.

In two recent letters, a couple dozen Florida and Georgia representatives said that Mexican growers are using unfair trade practices to dominate the U.S. market, undermining growers in their states.

"A timely trade remedy is needed to help save our produce sectors in Florida and the larger Southeast, and to ensure a U.S.-grown supply of fruits and vegetables to feed our nation during the fall-spring months of the year," the letter from Florida representatives reads.

Both were addressed to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who in January promised to release a plan to address any trade distorting practices within 60 days of the new USMCA trade deal going into effect. That occurred on July 1.

“We would have a roller coaster ride for consumer prices for certain items instead of what I would like to call a nice, smooth train ride,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, of what might happen if quotas or tariffs were imposed on Mexican imports. Imports account for a sizable portion of the U.S. supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Limitations would be bad news for the massive import business in Nogales, according to Jungmeyer. It could also provoke retaliatory measures from Mexico, which is a major customer for U.S. agricultural goods, according to Jungmeyer.

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