UPI: Florida's tomato industry could be 'wiped out' under new trade deal

Article Posted on October 25, 2018

By: Ray Downs, UPI

MIAMI, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Florida's tomato industry has been under assault by cheap, government-subsidized tomatoes from Mexico since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. But the Trump administration's renegotiated trade treaty offers no relief, growers say.

The new trade deal, dubbed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, makes no changes to how fruits and vegetables are imported from Mexico, where labor is far cheaper than in the United States and the industry is heavily subsidized by the government in the form of vast amounts of capital and growing technology, such as state-of-the-art greenhouses and irrigation systems.

"The agreement is basically silent when it comes to doing anything to provide relief to growers who are impacted by unfair trade products coming in from Mexico," Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, told UPI.

But the agreement has been hailed as a boon for some areas of American agriculture.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the deal helps farmers "secure greater access to the Mexican and Canadian markets."

Indeed, U.S. agriculture sectors that thrive on foreign sales were pleased.

Wheat farmers benefited from a change to the Canadian wheat grading system that labels U.S. wheat as a lower grade because it's foreign.

The top corn lobby, the Corn Refiners Association, called it a "milestone" for corn farmers.

And the National Cattlemen's Beef Association praised the new deal's continuation of allowing U.S. beef and pork exports to Mexico and Canada free of tariffs.

But in Florida, where produce like tomatoes rely on a domestic market, the agreement didn't include any protections from cheaper produce coming from Mexico…

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