Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick praised the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on actions to address unfair trade practices in the U.S. seasonal and perishable produce sector.
“The Administration’s decision to pursue negotiations with Mexico is a significant step forward in the ongoing struggle to preserve fair market conditions for Florida growers,” stated Hoblick. “The actions announced yesterday will further that objective in support of free and fair trade.”
On September 1, USTR announced a 90-day negotiating period with Mexico to remedy the unfair Mexican trade practices affecting strawberries, bell peppers, and other commodities. Also announced was a formal investigation into surging imports affecting the U.S. blueberry industry and extensive monitoring of Mexican strawberry and bell pepper imports through the International Trade Commission (ITC).
“Our fruit and vegetable producers have long faced a barrage of unfair trade practices, so these interagency actions are clear improvements to the status quo. We are grateful to Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretary Perdue, and Secretary Ross for their targeted actions on blueberries, strawberries, and bell peppers, as well as pursuit of a broader remedy for other adversely impacted produce.”
Hoblick added, “As we embark on the next three months, our organizational efforts will remain focused on assisting federal policymakers throughout this process toward a sustainable solution for all of our affected specialty crops.”
This decision follows virtual public hearings conducted by USTR and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce on August 13 and 20. Hoblick was among the Florida Farm Bureau members and industry leaders who testified before federal officials; his testimony was referenced in USTR’s 28-page report released with the announcement.
A link to the USTR press release is here.
A link to Hoblick’s written testimony at the Aug. 13 virtual hearing is here.