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Curbelo, Rubio meet with South Dade Farmers

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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2018 12:00 am | Updated: 9:48 am, Fri Oct 26, 2018.

Director’s of the Board of the Dade County Farm Bureau filled every seat at the ‘round table’ to deliver their message to their Washington officials. The message was clear, ‘fix the way this country treats farmers’. NAFTA all but eliminated row crop farming here and if the two officials don’t do something, Carpenter said, ”the few of us that are left, will be out of business in 2-3 years.”

The new trade agreement (USMCA) deal between the US Mexico and Canada struck by President Trump will certainly benefit agriculture in many parts of America. 

But to the local row crop growers that cannot compete with Mexico due to extremely low wage scales in Mexico and labor practices there that are not permitted here due to health issues and/or labor costs and conditions, have created a playing field far less than fair.

Paul DiMare spoke of his personal history whose family was from Sicily and then migrated to the Boston area and now has farming operations on both coasts. He told the officials that when NAFTA was first negotiated, the intent was to create better prices for the consumers. He said he shopped at Publix recently and tomatoes grown here were the same price as those grown in Mexico. His point being that there has been no savings to speak of. Just more profit for foreign farming operations.

Curbelo and Rubio have introduced the Agricultural Trade Improvement Act of 2018, which would allow South Florida growers to sell their specialty crops at fair and competitive prices in our domestic market by protecting them from unfair trade practices. This legislation would have the equal authority of a seasonality/perishable provision in NAFTA that Curbelo has been encouraging the Administration to include in any final negotiation.

Florida’s agriculture industry is responsible for over 100,000 jobs in the state and accounts for over $12 billion in economic output each year.

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