( Courtesy FFVA )

The Office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, following up on a promise to farmers in Florida and other areas, has scheduled hearings for growers to talk about concerns of unfair competition with Mexican products.

Lighthizer’s office will be taking testimony at two hearings:

  • Florida: 9 a.m. April 7 at the Grimes Family Agricultural Center in Plant City; and
  • Georgia: 9 a.m. April 9 at the Rainwater Conference Center, Valdosta.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Commerce will also be present.

Florida senators and representatives, who raised concerns about seasonal competition with imports not being addressed in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, wrote to Lighthizer, who said his office would follow up with hearings. The issue is over “anti-dumping and countervailing duty” provisions that would allow U.S. growers to claim unfair trade practices from imports.

The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, which joined other grower groups to lobby for anti-dumping measures in the USMCA, is urging members to attend the hearing.

FFVA President Mike Joyner in a news released expressed appreciation federal agencies are pursuing the issue.

“This is a positive development in our ongoing efforts to secure trade relief,” he said in the release.

“This is our best opportunity to tell the administration about the dire state of many Florida specialty crop operations,” according to a member alert from the FFVA. “We can’t emphasize enough how critically important it is that we have the strongest turnout possible to demonstrate our concern over Mexico’s unfair trade practices and to advocate for urgent relief.”

The FFVA is asking members to send written comments to Lighthizer’s office as well, by March 27.

Growers and other industry members in southern Florida can take a bus from the University of Florida’s Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade April 7, on a first-come, first served basis.

The FFVA also has released a social media toolkit to highlight growers’ trade concerns, with graphics to support their cause and bring it to the attention of consumers.

FFVA members can access more information at www.ffva.com/trade.

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