Commissioner Fried Provides Testimony to US Senate Agriculture Committee on Unfair Trade Practices Harming Florida Growers / Press Releases 2022 / Press Releases / News & Events / Home

Tallahassee, Florida. – Today, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried submitted written testimony of U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade urging Congress to address the unfair trade practices that have damaged Florida farmers for decades and the lack of protections for the nation’s seasonal produce industry.

“Our state’s fruit and vegetable farming industry alone supports 68,700 jobs and generates $5 billion in annual revenue. In times of heightened food insecurity both at home and abroad and with soaring food prices, protecting the national food supply chain is a matter of national security. Our producers work tirelessly to feed our families and communities; we have to have our backs”, wrote Commissioner Fried.

“Passing the Law on the Defense of the Production of National Products (HR 3926 and S. 2080) is something Congress can and should pass without further delay to protect the strength of our national industry as we continue to work together to address the current challenges facing the industry,” she concluded.

Background: Commissioner Fried remains a strong advocate for the national seasonal produce industry, continuously calling for prompt and effective relief for farmers in Florida and 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 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Department of Commerce, presenting a major report showing the economic harm that these trade-distorting policies are causing Florida farmers and our economy as a whole. FDACS report published in August 2021 that the Commissioner Fried shared with USDA and USTR.

Following the August 2020 hearing, the same three federal agencies presented a plan to help the national seasonal produce industry, and the commissioner Fried reiterated its commitment to hold the administration accountable for providing enforceable protections and access to relief for Florida farmers. Following this hearing, the ITC launched several 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 during its blueberry investigations and provided commentary on its strawberry and pepper investigation since no formal hearing was held. Commissioner Fried continues to work closely with Florida specialty crop growers and members of Congress demanding protections for the nation’s seasonal produce industry.

A copy of the commissioner’s statement for the record can be found here and lower.

Statement by the Honorable Nicole “Nikki” Fried

U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade

Agricultural Trade Hearing: Priorities and Issues Facing U.S. Farmers

June 9, 2022

President Warnock, Ranking Member Hoeven and subcommittee members, thank you for the opportunity to address the concerns and priorities of Florida’s agricultural industry. Foremost among these issues are unfair foreign trade practices and lack of protection for domestic growers of seasonal and perishable crops, including those in Florida. This problem may have started in the Sunshine State, but, as President Warnock can attest given the impact these issues are also having on Georgian producers, it is spreading rapidly and will impact the entire our national seasonal products industry. We have long sounded the alarm on this issue and now, more than ever, it is critical that Congress act in light of the USMCA’s failure to remedy this harmful situation.

Florida’s agricultural industry is the backbone of our state. It is our second largest industry and has an economic impact of nearly $150 billion. We have 47,500 farms and ranches, and the agriculture industry supports over 2.4 million jobs. Our state’s agricultural produce and vegetable industry alone supports 68,700 jobs and generates $5 billion in annual revenue. In times of heightened food insecurity both at home and abroad and with soaring food prices, protecting the national food supply chain is a matter of national security. Our producers work tirelessly to feed our families and communities; we have to have their backs.

As you may know, Florida and Mexico share a growing season given our subtropical climates. The Mexican government’s agricultural subsidies — in addition to their lower labor safety and environmental standards — allow Mexican producers to artificially sell produce at low prices in the US market. In 2021, these Mexican imports increased drastically. My department found[ ] that since 2000, Florida’s share of the US domestic market has fallen by 40%, while Mexico’s has increased by 217%. In 2020, U.S. imports of strawberries grown in Mexico were up 27%, other berries were up 17%, peppers were up 16%, and that’s just a few. While we have tracked these harmful foreign trade practices with a focus on Mexico, other foreign agricultural industries are also taking advantage of the fact that current trade laws leave US producers unprotected and without access to remedy in the face of this continued dumping. . I enclose the most recent economic reports produced by my department on the negative impact this has had over the years on many commodities and several states. This documented harm, which has lasted for decades, is why we need the protections outlined in bipartisan, bicameral law. Law on the Defense of the Production of National Products (HR 3926 and S. 2080) to be signed into law, a bill for which we are grateful has the support of President Warnock.

As you all know, farming is a demanding profession and the importance of our agriculture industry cannot be overemphasized, from feeding families to creating jobs to national security in these uncertain times. In the face of so many challenges beyond our control, such as more extreme weather and supply chain issues caused by a once-in-a-generation pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, we must do all we can to help support our vital agricultural industry. I am grateful for the steps already taken by the Biden administration to help our producers overcome these long-term challenges, and encourage congressional action for additional immediate assistance to our farmers during these difficult times. But there can and must be timely and effective assistance to our domestic seasonal produce industry to stem the damage wrought by decades of unchecked unfair foreign trade practices since NAFTA.

Pass the Law on the Defense of the Production of National Products (HR 3926 and S. 2080) is something Congress can and should pass without further delay to protect the strength of our national industry as we continue to work together to address the current challenges facing the industry. Please know that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stands ready to assist the Senate Agriculture Committee as we work to grow America. Thank you for your attention to this important subject.

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