Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried submitted written testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade urging Congress to address unfair foreign trade practices causing decades-long harm to Florida farmers and the lack of protections for the domestic seasonal produce industry.
“Our state’s fruit and vegetable farming industry alone supports 68,700 jobs and creates $5 billion in annual cash receipts. In this time of heightened food insecurity both at home and abroad and with food costs skyrocketing, protecting the domestic food supply chain is a matter of national security. Our producers work tirelessly to feed our families and communities; we need to have their backs,” wrote Commissioner Fried.
“Passing the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act (H.R. 3926 and S. 2080) is something that Congress can and should take up without further delay to protect the strength of our domestic industry while we continue to work together to navigate the current challenges facing the industry,” she concluded.
Background: 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. In August 2020, 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 major report showing the economic harm these trade distorting policies are having on Florida farmers and our economy overall FDACS report released in August 2021 that Commissioner Fried shared with the USDA and USTR.
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. Coming out of that hearing, the ITC launched multiple investigations into the impacts of increased foreign imports on several seasonal crops. In addition to testifying before the ITC on cucumbers and squash, Commissioner Fried also testified at its investigations into blueberries and provided comments 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.
A copy of the Commissioner’s statement for the record can be found here and beneath.
Statement of the Honorable Nicole “Nikki” Fried
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade
Hearing on Agricultural Trade: Priorities and Issues Facing America’s Farmers
June 9, 2022
Chairman Warnock, Ranking Member Hoeven, and members of the Subcommittee, thanks for the chance to tackle issues and priorities of Florida’s agricultural business. Chief amongst these points are unfair overseas commerce practices and lack of protections for home seasonal and perishable crop growers, together with these in Florida. This challenge might have began within the Sunshine State, however, as Chairman Warnock can attest to given the affect these points have on Georgia growers as properly, it’s spreading quickly and can affect our total home seasonal produce business. We have lengthy been ringing the alarm bell on this challenge and now, greater than ever, it’s important for Congress to take motion given the failure of USMCA in addressing this dangerous state of affairs.
Florida’s agricultural business is the spine of our state. It is our second largest business and has an almost $150 billion financial affect. We are dwelling to 47,500 farms and ranches and the agriculture business helps greater than 2.4 million jobs. Our state’s fruit and vegetable farming business alone helps 68,700 jobs and creates $5 billion in annual money receipts. In this time of heightened meals insecurity each at dwelling and overseas and with meals prices skyrocketing, defending the home meals provide chain is a matter of nationwide safety. Our producers work tirelessly to feed our households and communities; we’d like to have their backs.
As you could know, Florida and Mexico share a rising season given our sub-tropical climates. The Mexican authorities’s agricultural subsidies – as well as to their decrease labor and environmental security requirements — enable Mexican producers to dump artificially low-priced merchandise into the U.S. market. In 2021, these Mexican imports elevated drastically. My division discovered that since 2000, Florida’s share of the home U.S. market has plunged 40 %, whereas Mexico’s has expanded by 217 %. In 2020, U.S. imports of Mexican grown strawberries elevated 27 %, different berries elevated 17 %, bell peppers elevated 16 %, and that’s solely to title a number of. While we have now tracked these dangerous overseas commerce follow with a spotlight on Mexico, different overseas agricultural industries are additionally making the most of the truth that present commerce legal guidelines depart American growers with no protections and a scarcity of entry to cures within the face of this continued dumping. I’m enclosing the newest financial experiences produced by my Department on the adverse affect this has had over time throughout many commodities and a number of states. This documented, decades-long hurt is why we’d like the protections outlined within the bipartisan, bicameral the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act (H.R. 3926 and S. 2080) to be enacted, a invoice that we’re grateful has the assist of Chairman Warnock.
As you all are properly conscious, farming is a difficult career and the significance of our agricultural business can’t be emphasised sufficient, from feeding households to job creation to nationwide safety in unsure instances. In the face of so many challenges exterior of our management, like extra excessive climate and provide chain challenges brought on by a as soon as in a era pandemic and Russia’s warfare in Ukraine, we’d like to do all we are able to to assist assist our very important agriculture business. I’m grateful for the actions already taken by the Biden Administration to assist our producers overcome these challenges within the long-term, and encourage congressional motion to additional fast help to our farmers throughout these tough instances. But there can and should be well timed and efficient reduction granted to our home seasonal produce business to stem the hurt that has been brought on by many years of unfair overseas commerce practices going unchecked since NAFTA.
Passing the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act (H.R. 3926 and S. 2080) is one thing that Congress can and may take up with out additional delay to shield the energy of our home business whereas we proceed to work collectively to navigate the present challenges dealing with the business. Know that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stands prepared to help the Senate Agriculture Committee as we work to maintain America rising. Thank you on your consideration to this necessary matter.