Nikki Fried Backs Florida Delegation Call for U.S. Trade Rep to Protect Farmers From Foreign Competition

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried threw her support behind the Florida congressional delegation urging United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai to protect American fruit and vegetable production against international competition.

Last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Al Lawson, D-Fla., and Darren Soto, D-Fla., sent a letter signed by almost 40 members of Congress to Tai on the matter. Signers included U.S. Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Tim Scott, R-SC, and Raphael Warnock, D-Ga. Other signers included U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Kat Cammack, R-Fla., Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Neal Dunn, R-Fla., Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Scott Franklin, R-Fla., Carlos Giménez, R-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Bill Posey, R-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., Greg Steube, R-Fla., Michael Waltz, R-Fla., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Dan Webster, R-Fla., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.

At the end of last week, Fried said she backed the Florida delegation’s efforts.

“Florida’s and the nation’s seasonal crop producers have long suffered from unfair trade practices that threaten their livelihoods and our safe, secure domestic food supply. It’s past time for common-sense trade solutions that give Florida’s growers a level playing field on which to compete. I join this bipartisan, bicameral multi-state delegation in urging Ambassador Tai and the Biden Administration to work with Congress and take action to put American farmers first. I thank the more than three dozen members of Congress who wrote encouraging this action, led by Senator Rubio and Representatives Diaz-Balart, Soto, and Lawson, and including Senator Rick Scott, Senator Warnock of Georgia, and the majority of Florida’s congressional delegation,” Fried said.

“American growers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables are under unsustainable pressure from growing volumes of unfairly subsidized and/or dumped produce from Mexico, Peru, Chile, and other foreign suppliers.  US Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) has called for a solution to this problem for nearly twenty years.  Unfortunately for many of our seasonal and perishable sectors, inaction on the issue has led to sharply increasing imports, growing foreign subsidies, race-to-the-bottom labor wage disparities, progressively lower import prices, and escalating harm to our family farms and producing communities.  This past year amidst the coronavirus pandemic for example, imports of perishable fruits and vegetables surged to record levels, seizing larger segments of the market while our growers were forced to forego their harvests and plow under entire fields of viable produce.  Our impacted seasonal and perishable sectors are at a crossroads and need urgent relief,” the 39 members of Congress wrote Tai last week.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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