Curbelo Makes the Case for South Dade Farmers Directly to U.S. Trade Ambassador During Ways and Means Hearing

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Washington, D.C., June 22, 2017 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | comments
 

During a Ways and Means Committee hearing with U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer today, Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) made the case for an even playing field for South Dade’s famers as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is renegotiated.

“We know a lot of farmers have benefitted greatly from NAFTA, however the story is a little bit different in South Dade,” Curbelo said. “I try to spend as much time as I can with these farmers and they have many issues that they are concerned about – immigration, taxes, but NAFTA is certainly a major one. Specialty crops like tomatoes, squash, eggplants, strawberries – pretty much anything that can be handpicked – faces a significant disadvantage when it comes to Mexican competition. Mexico has a similar climate, and, for a whole host of reasons, can unfairly compete against many of my constituents.”

Curbelo went on to question Lighthizer about what the Administration is doing in the NAFTA renegotiation to make leveling the playing field for South Dade farmers a priority. Curbelo also questioned Lighthizer about the positive benefits the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could have on the economy.

A full transcript of Curbelo’s opening remarks can be found below. A video of the full exchange is available here.

 

Curbelo Makes the Case for South Dade Farmers Directly to U.S. Trade Ambassador During Ways and Means Hearing
Washington, D.C.
June 22, 2017
https://youtu.be/2tJapW2CcyQ

Representative Carlos Curbelo: “Thank you Mr. Chairman and Ambassador Lighthizer for your presence here today.

“One issue I wanted to bring up is the effect trade agreements have on the farmers of my South Florida district.  Many people not from South Florida might be surprised to know that Miami-Dade County is one of the largest ag-producing counties in the state. Most people think about our beaches, and we are very proud of those, but we also have a very robust ag-industry in South Florida. We have avocados, mangos, tomatoes, and many other specialty crops which can be grown year-round.

“So as we renegotiate NAFTA, which I support, I am concerned with how the deal will affect our farmers across the country. We know a lot of farmers have benefitted greatly from NAFTA, however the story is a little bit different in South Dade. I try to spend as much time as I can with these farmers and they have many issues that they are concerned about – immigration, taxes – but NAFTA is certainly a major one. Specialty crops like tomatoes, squash, eggplants, strawberries – pretty much anything that can be handpicked – faces a significant disadvantage when it comes to Mexican competition. Mexico has a similar climate, and, for a whole host of reasons, can unfairly compete against many of my constituents.

“Ambassador I have raised this issue multiple times as NAFTA is being renegotiated for the fair treatment of South Dade, these specialty crops, and the farmers who grow them. I have mentioned this to you and your staff, Secretary Ross and Mr. Navarro. This issue is of critical importance to the South Dade farming community.” 

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