(FDACS) — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on the urgent issue of unfair foreign trade devastating Florida’s and America’s domestic produce industry. The virtual hearing was on an ongoing ITC investigation into unfair trade practices by foreign exporters leading to a surge of blueberry imports in the U.S. market.
Since entering the U.S. market in 2009, Mexico’s market share for blueberries has skyrocketed by 2,100 percent, while Florida’s market share has decreased by 38 percent since 2015. Commissioner Fried was joined in testifying by U.S. Representative John Rutherford (FL-04), several Florida blueberry growers and associations, and elected officials and agriculture producers from Georgia, Michigan, and other impacted states.
Fried provided the ITC with a new report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services showing that Mexican blueberry imports have caused over $55 million in economic harm to Florida farmers in 2015-16 alone. Other nations including Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Canada have also contributed to the surge of imported produce in the U.S. market in recent years.