While the Administration tried to include seasonal and perishable provisions in the United States Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement to protect U.S. fruit and vegetable growers from unfair trade practices in Mexico, they were unsuccessful. The University of Georgia (UGA) Impact Study clearly documents the effect the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has had on the southeastern fruit and vegetable industry and projects the catastrophic impact USMCA will have, not only on our growers, but also on Georgia’s rural communities without a credible solution.
The conclusions of this study vividly state the economic losses to Georgia’s blueberry and vegetable industries will be considerable.
· The state is on track to lose nearly one billion dollars in annual economic output and over 8,000 jobs…
· In some rural communities (Clinch and Echols counties) the income losses to the county’s economy will be over 40%… economic damage on the scale of the Great Depression.
· In several other rural communities (Appling, Brooks, Colquitt and Decatur) the percentage drop in county incomes is in the range of 2 to 5%, equivalent to an economic recession.
The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) calls on the Administration and our congressional leaders to work together to find an acceptable solution to prevent the devastation forecast in this report if USMCA is approved without effective trade relief. Family fruit and vegetable farms in the southeast that have operated for generations must have a solution that provides relief from Mexico’s unfair trading practices. Without effective relief, farm operations will be forced to shut down as projected in this Impact Study.
The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is a trade association representing farmers producing fruits and vegetables in the southeastern United States. The organization provides a viable and united voice to represent the industry. Through support for educational programs, agricultural research, member services and marketing activities GFVGA encourages efficient, cost effective production for growers and increased consumption by consumers. www.gfvga.org