March 20, 2018
Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick, along with Florida farmers representing blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes met with Congressman Vern Buchanan (R- Long Boat Key) on Tuesday, March 19 in Manatee County to discuss the unfair trade practices of Mexico and the impact it has on their respective crops and farms.
Congressman Buchanan introduced HR 101, the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R- FL) and Congressman Al Lawson (D- Tallahassee) in early 2019. This bipartisan bill would correct the adverse trade effects of Mexico on seasonal and perishable Florida produce.
Fourth-generation Manatee County tomato grower, Gary Reeder said he has witnessed the county’s tomato farms “basically cut in half” during his lifetime. Similar effects were echoed by the other fruit and vegetable growers present.
According to the University of Florida/IFAS research, Florida fresh tomato production fell from 1.56 billion pounds in 2000 to 950 million pounds in 2015, dropping nearly 40 percent. Florida specialty crop growers have had 10 to 20 percent of the market share lost due to Mexican imports, resulting in a $2 billion loss annually.
During the meeting, the growers present complimented the Congressman for his leadership on this bill.
“We are grateful to Representative Buchanan and other members for standing with our Florida producers by helping to address trade issues that have undercut and harmed our seasonal and perishable industry for decades. We look forward to working with the state delegation and encourage their support of this bill,” remarked Hoblick.
Florida Farm Bureau is currently working to rally support for the legislation.
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