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Mexican farm imports costing Florida billions, Fried says

A worker sorts through tomatoes after they are washed before being inspected and packed, in...
A worker sorts through tomatoes after they are washed before being inspected and packed, in Florida City, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(WCTV)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 12:53 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WWSB) - The Florida Department of Agriculture has released a report charging rising imports of Mexican fruits and vegetables are costing the state thousands of jobs and nearly $4 billion in lost revenue.

At a news conference in Tallahassee, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried blamed the imbalance on unfair foreign trade practices.

Noting that agriculture is an $137 billion industry in Florida, “Our Florida farmers are used to weathering challenges – from hurricanes to invasive species – and they are used to competition,” Fried said. “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 10-20% in annual lost sales of Florida seasonal producers because of expanded Mexican imports. This equates to between 17,870 to 35,741 Florida jobs lost.

The report focused on six particular crops: 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 showing the economic harm these trade distorting policies are having on Florida farmers and our economy overall.

Since that time, Fried says the gap between Mexican agricultural exports and Florida’s total agricultural value widened from $11 billion to $23.3 billion as Mexican specialty crop imports have soared by 580% since 2000.

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