Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried today sent a letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative, raising serious concerns about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The pending multilateral trade agreement and successor to NAFTA, called “definitely worse than the current situation,” threatens to devastate business for American seasonal crop growers, particularly those in Florida, Georgia, and other Southeast states due to a lack of trade protections. Fresh seasonal produce including tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, and others are seriously affected by unfair trade practices. Meanwhile, Mexican growers and their seasonal products are dumped into our domestic markets, benefiting from massive government subsidies, significant wage differences, and unfair pricing practices.
“Florida fruit and vegetable farmers cannot afford this trend continuing – I urge the Administration to take appropriate action to protect U.S. seasonal growers from unfair foreign imports and trade practices,” wrote Commissioner Fried in the letter. “Without enforceable remedies in place, these unfair practices will continue, further threatening Florida’s farmers, agriculture industry, and economy. … I look forward to working with you towards a solution that will put American farmers and families first.”
The letter follows Commissioner Fried’s support, announced Thursday, for the federal Domestic Produce Production Act (S. 16 and H.R. 101) put forward by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and U.S. Representatives Vern Buchanan and Al Lawson. Of that bipartisan legislation, Commissioner Fried joined lawmakers and agriculture industry groups in saying, “NAFTA failed for 25 years to address the disastrous effects of unfair trade practices, and the USMCA appears to do no better. If we’re going to put America first, we need to start with a level playing field for the American growers who feed our families, communities, and nation.”