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South Florida Farmers Rally for Fair Trade

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2018 12:30 am

On Saturday November 3rd, 2018, South Florida farmers, family and friends rallied in support of two bills presented to Congress fight the illegal dumping from Mexico that has been occurring for over 25 years because of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). Farmers drove their tractors over 30 miles each way to bring awareness to South Florida agriculture. They assembled in front of Trump National Doral at 11am asking the

community to support local produce.

Florida was known to be the “Winter Bread Basket” of the United States supplying 70% of the fresh produce. Mexico now imports 80% of the produce. Imported food products are subject to Food Safety Regulations. Our U.S. farmers follow these regulations, but the same is not true for imports at the port of entry. These import shipments should be detained if the shipments are found not to be in compliance with U.S. requirements.

It is absolutely critical that any final agreement must allow our fruit and vegetable growers to address the challenges they face from unfair traded imports. We need seasonal data to seek regional relief in anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases because we need to provide this sector with the necessary tools to make the case that Mexico is selling produce at unfairly low prices when certain crops are in season in a particular region.

Florida farmers were left out in the negotiations for NAFTA earlier this year and are asking Congress and President Trump for “fair trade, not free trade” with Seanate Bill 3510 and House Bill 7015. Mexico’s growing season mirrors South Florida and has shipped produce into Florida below cost. Labor in Central America can make less than $8.00 per day. Tomato farmer Kern Carpenter said, “As a 3rd generation tomato farmer, I have witnessed farmers go out of business because of NAFTA. There were over 40 tomato farmers in Miami-Dade farming over 28,000 acres and we are down to 3 farmers farming less than 1,000 acres.”

Miami-Dade is the second largest agricultural county and economic driver in Florida. Dade County Farm Bureau represents over 3,400 members. Dade County farmers provide an economic impact of over $2.57 billion to the local and state economy.

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