President Donald Trump Aug. 27 said the United States and Mexico had reached a new trade pact, but specialty crop producers in the Southeast say the agreement between the two countries doesn’t fix unfair trade practices that harm them.
The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association issued the following statement soon after the announcement:
This announcement is certainly disappointing. Our southeastern growers remain deeply concerned as this agreement fails to provide trade relief needed for our industry.
The President has promised to help safeguard farmers. We appreciate the administration's efforts in the recent negotiations help our fruit and vegetable producers even though the outcome failed. GFVGA will continue to diligently work with other industry organizations and the administration to find solutions to stop Mexico's unfair trading practices and to help our fruit and vegetable industry survive. Family fruit and vegetable farms in the Southeast that have operated for generations are desperate to see relief from cheap Mexican fruit and vegetable imports. Without effective trade relief operations will be forced to shut down.
For almost 20 years, Mexico's unfair trading practices have taken their toll on producers in the Southeast. Mexico swamps the U.S. market during our narrow marketing seasons at prices far below our production costs. What's more, Mexico's president-elect recently promised a significant increase in government subsidies to Mexican farmers to plant a million more hectares of fruit.
GFVGA expresses appreciation to members of Congress that understand the unfair trade environment fostered by NAFTA. These members have worked hard to support the Southeastern fruit and vegetable grower's position on this issue. Continuing to work with our congressional members and the administration, GFVGA is committed to fighting destructive trade practices through all means possible to help our farmers compete on fair terms and stay in business.
Nearly all of the United States’ $5 billion agricultural trade deficit with Mexico is in perishable fruits and vegetables sector, according to GFVGA. Mexico has captured its growth by using unfair US pricing practices during the marketing periods it shares with produce farmers in the Southeast.