Workers sort tomatoes at a packing facility in Florida. ( The Packer staff )

The revised trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico won’t bring any new trade protection tools for U.S. growers of seasonal specialty crops.

President Trump said Monday that a trade “understanding” has been reached with Mexico.

The agreement did not include a trade remedy for U.S. specialty crop producers, a provision which had been backed by many Southeast U.S. growers for more than a year.

“This is not the outcome we have worked for,” Mike Stuart, president of the Maitland, Fla.-based Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, said in a statement. “However, the president has promised to help safeguard farmers, and we will continue working diligently and persistently with the administration on solutions to stop Mexico’s unfair trading practices and to help our fruit and vegetable industry survive.”

Stuart said in the statement that generations-old family fruit and vegetable farms in the Southeast are “desperate to see relief from cheap Mexican fruit and vegetable imports.”

“Mexico swamps the U.S. market during our narrow marketing seasons at prices far below our production costs,” Stuart said. “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.”

Stuart said FFVA will continue to work its Congressional delegation on addressing the issue. 

“Working with them and the administration, FFVA is committed to fighting destructive trade practices through all means possible to help our farmers compete on fair terms and stay in business,” Stuart said.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office summarized the agreement with Mexico in a fact sheet.

In this partial list, the USTR said the agreement will bring several benefits to agriculture:

  • Maintain zero tariffs on agricultural products;
  • Enhance information exchange and cooperation on agricultural biotechnology trade-related matters; and
  • The two countries will increase transparency on the development and implementation of sanitary/phtyosanitary measures.

Trump said negotiations with Canada to review the U.S.-Canada trade portion of the deal would begin immediately.

Richard Owen, vice president of global membership and engagement for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, said Canada’s part in NAFTA is important to the produce industry supply chain. “The overall consensus is to make sure Canada is included in the next step,” he said Aug. 27.

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association said in a statement Aug. 27 that it was encouraged by the announcement that the U.S. and Mexico have come to an understanding on bilateral trade issues within the context of NAFTA.

“Canadian negotiators have been steadfast in their support for the industry and are well briefed on issues affecting fresh produce, including the seasonality provision, the elimination of Chapter 19 (dispute settlement in dumping cases), and the sunset clause,” the statement said.

CPMA said it was pleased that the seasonality provision has been removed from the U.S.-Mexico agreement and will not be part of the discussions moving forward. 

“CPMA will continue to work with Canadian negotiators as they re-engage in formal negotiations with the U.S. reflecting the need for a trilateral agreement to preserve the competitiveness of the North American fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain,” the statement from CPMA said.


Perdue touts deal

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement that President Trump “achieved important improvements in the agreement to enable our agricultural producers to be treated more fairly.”

“This breakthrough demonstrates that the president’s common-sense strategy of holding trading partners accountable will produce results,” Perdue said in the statement. 

Perdue said the agreement addresses agricultural biotechnology to keep up with 21st Century innovations.

“And we mutually pledge to work together with Mexico to reduce trade-distorting policies, increase transparency, and ensure non-discriminatory treatment in grading of agricultural products,” Perdue said in the statement.

“We now hope that Canada will see the need to settle all of the outstanding issues between our two nations as well, and restore us to a true North American Free Trade Agreement.”

Submitted by Consumer on Mon, 08/27/2018 - 16:17

If the Florida growers are disappointed, it means good news for everyone else. The Florida cartel has caused the American consumer to pay too much for too long.

Submitted by JD on Mon, 08/27/2018 - 17:23

You go ahead and buy produce from Mexico. They sometimes irrigate with sewage water by the way

In reply to by Consumer (not verified)

Submitted by Wp on Mon, 08/27/2018 - 18:33

Are you serious? Looks like you need to travel more!! I have been in both sides. And both do a good job. But in mexico sewage is never used to irrigate. They have more rules to comply than the us side. Educate yourself. 75% of recalls and Ecoli, listeria & Salmonella outbreaks are generated on us soil.

In reply to by JD (not verified)

Submitted by johnv on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 06:39

do you look after food safety books for a farm?
the things we need to do to keep the consumers safe is never ending
Plus we as farmers take pride in keeping our consumers safe , plus we feed our own family with our food

In reply to by Wp (not verified)

Submitted by Vietnam Vet on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 08:14

And where do you suppose the farm workers pass their bodily fluids and dump their sewage?
Don't know where you were looking or if you're just a straight out liar! There was a recall on a large shipment of cilantro from mexico because it had bits of toilet paper in it. Another example of their concern about contamination from human waste can been seen where the Tijuana River flows into the Pacific Ocean polluting and closing the beaches in San Diego.
I'll bet you also think seafood from china and the rest of the orient is wholesome and clean.

In reply to by Wp (not verified)

Submitted by kerr lee on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 14:35

So your theory is that the Mexican laborers in Mexican fields are not as sanitary as the Mexican laborers in California fields or is it that in America we don't use toilet paper?

In reply to by Vietnam Vet (not verified)

Submitted by JD on Fri, 08/31/2018 - 19:59

Educate YOURself. Simply look up Mexico uses sewage to grow crops and read what you see. Google is a nice educator sometimes. Even their own workers dislike working with the filthy water.

In reply to by Wp (not verified)

Submitted by johnv on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 06:41

news flash you will pay the same price Mexico just increases their profit margins and so does your grocer

In reply to by Consumer (not verified)

Submitted by lolwhut on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:42

Newsflash you just figured out how supply and demand works. This is exactly why moms should take folic acid whilst preggers...

In reply to by johnv (not verified)

Submitted by lolwhut on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:42

Newsflash you just figured out how supply and demand works. This is exactly why moms should take folic acid whilst preggers...

In reply to by johnv (not verified)

Submitted by johnv on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 06:37

think about this florida fruit makes it to market in 3 days or less. Mexican fruit will take 1 WEEK or more. How is that fresh?

Submitted by Lance on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 08:50

Most of Mexican Produce comes from Mexico’s Northwest, do is 1 day to Arizona 2 days to LA, how long does it take a load from Florida get to LA? 4-5 Days

In reply to by johnv (not verified)

Submitted by kerr lee on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 14:14

Well, Mission Accomplished. Trump got them to pay for the wall. And the price of corn is up, isn't it?

Submitted by FLFarmer on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:31

Enjoy Mexico controlling the fruit and vegetable business. What a shame.

Submitted by logic on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:39

uh big bad mexico controlling fruit and vegetables. Get some mexican aloe on that burnt bubu

In reply to by FLFarmer (not verified)

Submitted by ed on Fri, 08/31/2018 - 10:52

dont be dumb...., You do know that U.S . companies are heavily involved down there right ? Some from your very own Sunny Florida....

In reply to by FLFarmer (not verified)

Submitted by JD on Fri, 08/31/2018 - 22:06

Sadly I do know that some companies do grow there now. And why the hell you think that is! Cheap labor, no regulation, sewage irrigation, I could go on and on. But don't want to tell you. You go ahead and buy Mexico bud.

In reply to by ed (not verified)

Submitted by Leroy on Wed, 09/05/2018 - 11:24

Yes, Cilantro from the Puebla, MX region has had issues over the years. However, BY FAR (and its not even close) there have been many more recalls for salmonella and other illnesses from american produce. Just this year in the US we had a recall of melons from Florida and millions of eggs from Indiana (just to name a couple). I try to buy local produce, because I want to support local businesses. But, stats and science don't show US produce that much healthier than imports from other countries (including big scary Mexico). Of course, I take the best US produce over imports, but I can't always afford the best and when you look at averages, it all just about averages out.

Submitted by Isra on Mon, 01/28/2019 - 20:17

I Love mexican produce!!