A University of Georgia study has determined that the state’s berry and vegetable growers will suffer if the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is ratified without changes.
While the Trump administration tried to include seasonal and perishable provisions in the USMCA, that effort was not successful.
The study, called “The Impact of the USMCA on Georgia’s Small Fruit and Vegetable Industries,” said Georgia’s blueberry and vegetable industries will suffer considerable losses if the deal is ratified, according to a news release.
According to the study:
- The state is on track to lose nearly one billion dollars in annual economic output and more than 8,000 jobs.
- In some rural communities (Clinch and Echols counties are used as examples) the income losses will be more than 40%, which the study said will inflict economic damage on the scale of the Great Depression.
- In several other rural communities (Appling, Brooks, Colquitt and Decatur) the percentage drop in county incomes is in the range of 2% to 5%, equivalent to an economic recession.
A statement from the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association called on the Trump administration and Congress “to work together to find an acceptable solution to prevent the devastation forecast in this report if USMCA is approved without effective trade relief.”
The association said in the statement that family fruit and vegetable farms in the southeast that have operated for generations must have a solution that provides relief from what the group called Mexico’s unfair trading practices.
“Without effective relief, farm operations will be forced to shut down as projected in this (study),” he said.
The report said government subsidies and lower labor costs (about one tenth of U.S. labor costs) allow Mexican produce to be sold at less than one half the price American growers received before the Mexican imports arrived.