Last week, members of the Florida congressional delegation, led by U.S. Reps. Darren Soto, D-Fla., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., wrote a letter to Acting U.S. Trade Representative, Maria Pagan, expressing concerns over retaliatory tariffs placed by the European Union (EU) on U.S. agricultural products, particularly Florida grapefruits.
“These tariffs have had a devastating impact on citrus, particularly Florida grapefruit, worsening the already difficult market conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote the members. “Because fresh citrus and citrus juices are subject to the retaliatory tariff, fresh Florida grapefruit is among the most adversely impacted.”
In the past, forty percent of Florida’s fresh grapefruit production was intended for EU markets.
With the addition of a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on top of the existing 1.5 percent tariff, grapefruit exports from Florida have shrunk significantly. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida growers have already been struggling to maintain their livelihoods. If immediate action is not taken and the United States loses the fresh grapefruit market in the EU, they could face even harsher consequences.
“As delegation members of the largest citrus-producing state in the country, we urge your full and fair consideration on this most important matter. The loss of this industry would be devastating to Florida growers and our nation,” continued the members.
The letter was signed by more than 20 members of the Florida delegation. Besides Soto and Posey, signers included U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Kat Cammack, R-Fla., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Val Demings, D-Fla., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Neal Dunn, R-Fla., Scott Franklin, R-Fla., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., Al Lawson, D-Fla., Brian Mast, R-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., John Rutherford, R-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., Greg Steube, R-Fla., Michael Waltz, R-Fla., and Dan Webster, R-Fla.