Mexican produce imports "costing Florida billions", Ag Commissioner says
The Florida Department of Agriculture has released a report saying rising Mexican produce imports are costing the state thousands of jobs and nearly $4 billion in lost revenue.
At a news conference in Tallahassee, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said the imbalance is a result of unfair foreign trade practices, according to ABC7.
"Our Florida farmers are used to weathering challenges - from hurricanes to invasive species - and they are used to competition," Fried was reported as saying.
"But they need timely and effective relief from the federal government to level the playing field because right now, we know Mexico and others are not fighting fair."
The report shows 10 to 20 percent or between $17,000 to over $35,000 in annual lost sales of Florida seasonal producers.
The report focused on six particular Mexican produce imports: bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, sweet corn and watermelon.
Last August, Fried testified at a virtual hearing held by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Commerce, presenting a similar report as this recent one.
Fried says the gap between Mexican agricultural exports and Florida's total agricultural value widened from $11 billion to $23.3 billion as imports increased 580 percent since 2000.