September 15, 2022

Florida lawmakers want investigation into fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico

Florida lawmakers asked the U.S. trade agency to investigate what they called a “flood” of fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico, saying it poses a direct threat to the state’s agricultural industry.

Republican senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, along with more than 20 congressmen, filed the petition to open an investigation.

The lawmakers want to use the same law that former President Donald Trump used to impose tariffs on billions of dollars in imports from China.

Mexico poses a direct threat to Florida’s seasonal and perishable agriculture industry, jeopardizes long-term food security (…) to establish market prices that harm U.S. consumers, the lawmakers said in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai dated Sept. 8, 2022.

Furthermore, the lawmakers added that their petition makes it clear that the scheme Mexico is using is to displace Florida’s perishable and seasonal agricultural industry from the U.S. market. “It is an unreasonable trade practice that constitutes export targeting,” they stated.

According to Bloomberg, Florida is a major U.S. sugarcane producer and the nation’s largest supplier of citrus for juice.

Marco Rubio, who has held his seat since 2011, is looking to shore up support in Florida’s agricultural community when he faces off in November against Democrat Val Demings, a current House member.

In addition, Rubio and Scott have tried to court agricultural producers before, when they sought protection for blueberry farmers from imports from Mexico.

However, in 2021, the U.S. International Trade Commission found that inbound fruit shipments do not pose a serious threat to U.S. farmers.

In 2021 alone, the U.S. imported a record $170 billion in agricultural products, with $37 billion coming from Mexico, according to Department of Agriculture data.

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