U.S. Senators urge USDA to reverse 'harmful' decision affecting grapefruit growers
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rick Scott led members of the Florida and Texas Congressional Delegations to urge the Secretary of the USDA Tom Vilsack to reverse a recent decision that was made to administratively suspend juice content standards for imported grapefruits.
The letter written to Vilsack also requested information regarding the circumstances of the suspension, "which was made without a proper rulemaking process, and for which Congress was not notified".
Following the suspension of grapefruit juice content standards, Texas A&M University found that more than 85 percent of grapefruits imported from Mexico in September and October would have “failed quality standards and been rejected, if not for the suspension of juice content standards by Secretary Vilsack".
“The suspension of grapefruit juice standards for imported grapefruits poses a serious threat to American growers and undermines their ability to compete in the American market at a pivotal time," the members wrote.
In recent months and years, U.S. growers of this fruit have been severely impacted by natural disasters and citrus diseases.
The letter stated this suspension allows "low-quality grapefruit products to flood our market and forces our growers to compete against low-cost, subsidized imports".
This regulatory patch is "discriminatory in nature, as substandard grapefruit products can now be imported, meanwhile, American-grown grapefruits must still meet juice content standards".
Additionally, the members voiced concerns that these imports are of poor quality due to their low juice content and therefore impact consumers.
"American consumers may become averse to purchasing grapefruits, as the substandard imported products could adversely impact the entire market due to unmet consumer expectations.”
The letter was signed by various representatives from Florida and Texas.
“The core mission of USDA is to promote and support American agricultural producers, not to disadvantage them by creating unfair advantages for foreign growers."
"As such, we urge you to immediately reinstate juice content standards for imported grapefruits,” the members said.