Last week the United States Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Led members of the Florida congressional delegation in a letter to President Joe Biden urging the administration to protect Florida’s seasonal fruit and vegetable growers from unfair business competition.
United States joined Rubio Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., And US Representatives Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.,Kat Cammack, R-Fla.,Charlie crist, D-Fla.,Mario diaz balart, R-Fla.,Neal dunn, R-Fla.,Carlos gimenez, R-Fla.,Al lawson, D-Fla., Brian Mast, R-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Bill posey, R-Fla.,John rutherford, R-Fla.,Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla.,Darren soto, D-Fla., Greg Steube, R-Fla.,Michael Waltz, R-Fla., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., And Frédéric wilson, D-Fla.
The letter is below.
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to urge you to take immediate and comprehensive action to address current threats to American food security. In the interest of securing America’s critical supply chains, including for domestically produced food, we hope you do what is necessary to ensure that America never has to depend on other nations. to feed our own citizens.
As most of the country’s agricultural producers prepare for winter, Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers are currently considering planting their crops to fulfill their annual role, along with other Southeast growers as the only one. national source of seasonal and perishable fresh produce. during the months from late fall to spring of the year. In any given winter, more than one hundred million Americans will consume fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Florida. The ability of Florida growers to produce perishable fruits and vegetables during these critical months of the year is fundamental to America’s food security and self-reliance. Unfortunately, the long-standing threats to our security from unfairly priced, high volume imports are more serious than ever and deserve your urgent attention and action.
In a report dated August 30, 2021, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services fully identified the injury Mexico’s actions have inflicted on Florida fruit and vegetable producers. Between the years 2000 and 2020, the volume of imports of specialty crops from Mexico to the United States increased by about 580 percent, benefiting from a surge of overburdened low-cost, high-volume agricultural production, according to the report. through government agricultural subsidies. , wage disparities and dumping. This resulted in massive market share losses during the peak growing season for growers in Florida. Between the years 2000 and 2020, peppers, tomatoes (rings), strawberries and blueberries grown in Florida saw their US market share decline by 74.75 percent, 52.1 percent, 30.3 percent and 57.86 percent, respectively. These declines caused annual losses of $ 1.31 billion to $ 2.63 billion to the Florida economy, resulting in up to 35,741 jobs being lost. The loss of market share has also led to a decline in agricultural production, which has contributed to the loss of 123,000 acres of fruit and vegetable producing farmland since 2000. From a food security perspective, this consequence may be of most concern. In most cases, once that farmland is lost, it is gone forever.
For decades, United States Trade Promotion Authority explicitly called for comprehensive action to implement safeguard mechanisms to tackle trade practices that harm producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables, such as those employed jointly by the Mexican government and Mexican agricultural industries. For decades, despite clear evidence of the systematic use of malicious business practices, the federal government failed to take meaningful action to hold Mexico accountable for its economic war.
In anticipation of the Florida fruit and vegetable harvest season which begins in November, we implore you to work with us, as well as our colleagues in Congress, to quickly develop an action plan to secure trade relief. immediate, efficient and enforceable for our producers, so that another harvest season is not lost due to unfair imports. The long-term harm that Florida producers have suffered over the past two decades cannot continue if the United States intends to maintain reliable food supply chains and maintain its self-sufficiency. However, fatal damage to Florida’s agricultural base will occur if the federal government does not take immediate action.
The coronavirus pandemic has clearly demonstrated the threat posed by the relocation of our critical supply chains. The disruption caused by the pandemic should serve as a red flag that our critical national food production, including our seasonal and perishable products, cannot be allowed to wither due to foreign trade and unfair labor practices. You must act now.