Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a report prepared by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Marketing and Development showing 10-20% in annual lost sales of Florida seasonal producers because of expanded Mexican imports, resulting in an overall economic impact of $1.99 to $3.99 billion. This equates to between 17,870 to 35,741 Florida jobs lost. The new report was unveiled at a press conference held earlier today, which may be viewed here.
“With agriculture as Florida’s second largest industry, these unfair foreign trade practices and their devastating economic impact should be of grave concern to every single Floridian. In fact, this report found an economic impact of nearly $4 billion to our state overall due to increased Mexican imports, causing tens of thousands of Florida jobs to be lost,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “We know the best produce is ‘Fresh from Florida,’ thanks to the best farmers, with agriculture an $137 billion industry in our state. Our Florida farmers are used to weathering challenges – from hurricanes to invasive species – and they are used to competition. 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.”
Commissioner Fried remains an outspoken advocate for the domestic seasonal produce industry, continuously calling for timely and effective relief for farmers in Florida and across the United States since taking office in 2019. Last August, Commissioner Fried testified at a virtual hearing held by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 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, 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.
Following the August 2020 hearing, the same three federal agencies outlined a plan to help the domestic seasonal produce industry, and Commissioner Fried reiterated her commitment to holding the administration accountable for delivering enforceable protections and access to relief for Florida’s farmers. Since that time, the non-partisan U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) launched multiple investigations into the impacts of increased foreign imports on several seasonal crops. Commissioner Fried testified at the USITC hearings on its investigations into blueberries, cucumbers and squash. She also provided comments to the USITC on its strawberry and bell pepper investigation since no formal hearing was held. Commissioner Fried continues to work closely with Florida’s specialty crop growers and members of Congress demanding protections for the domestic seasonal produce industry.