Trade representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico have recently finished the third round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations in Ottawa. While the officials try to work something out that can benefit all three countries, U.S. specialty crop growers are anxiously waiting to see if they will be helped by the new agreement.
Regarding U.S. agriculture, some facets of the industry have fared well. However, specialty crops, especially in Florida, have not. Mexican imports have become too competitive for many growers to keep up with, all due to NAFTA.
During the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s recent annual convention, Representative Jake Raburn called NAFTA an “interesting subject” because specialty crops are impacted so differently than other crops. “They’re (specialty crops) adversely affected by NAFTA,” he said.
According to Raburn, commodity groups are working closely with legislators on NAFTA. The groups want to ensure the administration understands the position specialty crop growers are put in because of the current agreement.
Still, Raburn offers a glimmer of hope. “I think that from everything I’ve seen, transcripts I’ve read and House panels, that those discussions are headed in the right direction. The secretary of commerce is very aware of the situation with specialty crops,” he said.
Specialty crop growers are hoping heavy renegotiations will be made to aid the industry. “My hope is that those things will be taken into account as NAFTA is renegotiated,” Raburn concludes.
Renegotiation talks will resume next week in Washington, D.C.
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