Curbelo, Lawson Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect South Florida Specialty Crop Growers
Today, Representatives Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and Al Lawson Jr. (FL-08), introduced bipartisan legislation to guarantee specialty crop growers the seasonality/perishable provisions that are currently lacking in the Administration’s renegotiated NAFTA outline. The Agricultural Trade Improvement Act of 2018 would amend the Tariff Act of 1930 and allow American specialty crop growers to request the imposition of antidumping or countervailing duties. Similar legislation has been introduced by Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio.
“Free trade and amicable partnerships with our neighbors have been a cornerstone of the American economy for decades,” Curbelo said. “While recent renegotiations of NAFTA have not produced positive results for specialty crop growers in South Florida, we must do everything possible to provide them with the tools and protections they need to compete in a fair way. This legislation allows our South Florida growers to sell their specialty crops at fair and competitive prices in our domestic market, and protects them from unfair trade practices.”
“Trade is important to our global economy and we must examine each trade agreement carefully to protect our domestic economy,” said Lawson Jr. “I represent rural parts of North Florida, and in my district and much of Florida, we have a serious issue with Mexico’s dumping into our country’s agriculture market. This problem of dumping is with both specialty crops and sugar, causing some Florida farmers to go out of business. This below-cost produce is crippling Florida’s agriculture industry. Now is the time to address these unfair trading practices and protect our nation’s farmers.”
Under current law, a trade remedy petition requires the support of either 25 percent of the domestic industry that produces a similar product or at least 50 percent of the support of all producers of a domestic like product that expressed a position. This legislation would have the equal authority of a seasonality/perishable provision in NAFTA that Curbelo has been encouraging the Administration to include in the final deal. If the bill becomes law, specialty crop growers would be better prepared to take on Mexico’s unfair and opaque trade practices.
Curbelo has been a consistent advocate for South Dade farmers in his conversations with the Administration during NAFTA renegotiations. In coordination with local stakeholders, Curbelo has supported proposals to fight against the overcapacity of cheaper, less regulated produce from other countries by making it easier for specialty crop producers to prove they are being harmed by these imports. The agriculture industry in Florida is responsible for over 100,000 jobs in the Sunshine State and accounts for $12 billion of economic output each year. Florida and Mexico share a similar growing season, with Mexico producing many of the same specialty crops by utilizing government subsidies and without the environment and labor standards our Florida producers adhere to.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture, Florida is currently the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the country, and produces some of the highest quality produce in the world. Since 2000, Florida has lost between one and three billion dollars a year due to increased Mexican imports.