The damaging fruits of Free Trade
A new economic analysis conducted by a University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) team in Gainesville has confirmed Mexican imports have significantly harmed fruit and vegetable producers in the Sunshine State.
A steadily increasing surge of Mexican products has entered the U.S. domestic market during Florida’s peak winter seasons since the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1993. Florida growers have lost large portions of the U.S. domestic market as well as sales volumes.
Using the period 2010 to 2018 for study, the UF/IFAS team focused on three farm products: tomatoes, strawberries and bell peppers. They found that as Mexican imports ballooned, production of these foods in Florida declined by 58 percent, 22 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
Researchers noted, “These trends are not expected to change unless something in the trade relationship changes.” The impact, they concluded, “will result in broader economic impacts across the state.”
Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick said the results of the analysis reinforce the conclusion that NAFTA has been a failure for many farmers in this state. “Our fruit and vegetable producers have been telling our public officials for more than 25 years how NAFTA has damaged their production and their livelihoods,” Hoblick declared. “They are in an economic crisis that can be averted by good faith negotiation with our Mexican neighbors.
“I urge President Trump and officials in his administration to pursue enhanced relief from cheap, largely unregulated Mexican imports before we lose an entire infrastructure in Florida and in other states in the Southeast,” he added. “The consequences of such a human-made disaster will affect Floridians as well as consumers throughout the nation.
“The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement does not go far enough to provide such relief. The Florida delegation’s unanimous endorsement of H.R. 101 points to a clear solution. Please support it.”