( File photo )

Big imports from Mexico have threatened the economic viability of Florida and Georgia blueberry growers, Southeast U.S. industry leaders say.

Blueberry growers in Florida and Georgia are asking that seasonal trade protection provisions be included in any redone North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a news release.

A May 1 letter from the Florida Blueberry Growers Association and the Georgia Blueberry Growers Association to members of Congress outlined their concerns.

“The Florida and Georgia Blueberry industries have experienced growth and stability in the recent past, however the competitive disadvantage with the large volumes of low priced fruit have resulted in a collapsing market, and continual and rapid decline in pricing,” Brittany Lee, president of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, said in the release.

So far this season, the release said Mexico has shipped 43.5 million pounds of fresh blueberries to the U.S., while Florida and Georgia growers have produced about half of that, according to the letter to members of Congress.

The letter said “massive imports of Mexican blueberries during our window are crippling the Florida and Georgia blueberry industries.” Signed by Lee and Brandon Wade, Georgia Blueberry Growers Association president, the letter said Mexico’s lower labor and growing costs put Southeast U.S. growers at a disadvantage. “To add insult to injury, a USDA variety (biloxi), paid for by U.S. tax dollars at no cost to Mexican growers is the most widely planted variety,” the letter said.

“We applaud the administration’s commitment to renegotiating with Mexico and Canada, and hope that considerations will be made that will help protect our blueberry industry in the Southeast — the viability of our industry is at stake,” the letter concluded.

 

 
Comments
Submitted by Tom on Fri, 05/04/2018 - 06:55

Welcome to our world blueberry growers,if our do nothing congress doesn't step in with help, farming as we know it in Florida and Georgia is done. The drug cartels own the politicians and the farms in Mexico so selling price means nothing,10 million dollars worth of drugs is more important,so everytime a truck is found with drugs on it we close all the border crossings for 7 days,back the trucks up to Brazil. Keep calling your congress people and senators.

Submitted by Robert Barr on Sat, 05/05/2018 - 17:22

Your comment is far from the true. Please spend some time to learn the facts!

In reply to by Tom (not verified)

Submitted by Dave on Tue, 05/08/2018 - 10:37

Tom not only your opinion is biased and false, you also write like a 13 year old...
Drug cartels do not own all things, please stop watching Narcos on Netflix that much. If American Blueberry Growers Associations want a bigger share of the cake then tell food industry not to demand that many blueberries. As long as demand is there, supply will have to be met...

Submitted by Dan on Tue, 05/08/2018 - 11:06

The bigger problem is the amount of marketers that market the blueberry crops that come out of Florida and Georgia. To many cooks in the kitchen spoil the pot. They drive the markets down and then blame Mexico.

If anything the the fruit generated out of Mexico is handled by marketers that know what their doing. They are keeping the price up while Florida and Georgia race to the bottom.

In reply to by Dave (not verified)