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Florida Delegation Continues to Try to Protect Sunshine State’s Farmers From Mexican Competition

Members of the Florida delegation on Capitol Hill–Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Darren Soto, D-Fla.–brought back a bill to protect specialty crop growers from competition from Mexico.

In recent years, the Florida delegation has been pushing the “Defending Domestic Produce Production Act,” a proposal that would “combat unfair trade practices by countries like Mexico” and “would ensure that U.S. trade law is applicable to seasonal fruit and vegetable growers to petition the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission in order to secure relief from unfair trade practices.”

Buchanan brought the bill back and showcased it at the end of last week.

“Illegal seasonal dumping and unfair Mexican trade practices are crippling Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers,” said Buchanan. “It’s time to level the playing field and protect hardworking Florida farmers and our vital produce industry.”

“From 2000 to 2020, Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers have suffered from a 580 percent increase in produce imports from Mexico to the U.S. Mexican produce is often imported at a fraction of the cost of production, referred to as ‘seasonal dumping.’ This has led to economic losses of up to $4 billion a year to the state economy and costs seasonal growers between $1.31 and $2.63 billion in sales annually,” Buchanan’s office noted. “Under current law, only growers who can demonstrate a nationwide, year-round impact of unfair trade practices can seek relief from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission, leaving seasonal, regional growers with nowhere to turn. The Defending Domestic Produce Production Act would give seasonal fruit and vegetable growers the ability to petition the federal government and get relief from unabated foreign imports.”

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Soto has taken over as the main co-sponsor in the House, a role that had been held by former U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla. After the latest round of redistricting, Lawson was defeated by U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., in a rare matchup pitting two incumbents against each other.

“As Florida growers face significant economic losses, it is crucial for us to stand with them and work to find solutions. I’m proud to work with Congressman Buchanan on this legislation to help our farmers get relief,” Soto said.

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, where Buchanan is the vice chair.

Rubio introduced the bill in the U.S. Senate at the end of last month with Scott as the sole co-sponsor.

“We must ensure the viability of Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers, who for years have struggled to compete with dumped and unfairly priced Mexican imports. I firmly believe that food security is national security, and that to ensure our nation’s food security we must defend our food producers from malicious trade practices that are intended to undermine our self-reliance,” Rubio said.

Rubio’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

The Florida Farm Bureau and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association are backing the proposal.

Author

  • Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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