Blueberry growers and industry leaders in the Southeast had their say on Tuesday about unfair trade practices regarding imports from foreign countries, including Mexico.
They testified during a virtual hearing with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) regarding a global safeguard investigation into fresh, chilled or frozen blueberries.
Jerome Crosby, Georgia blueberry grower and chairman of the American Blueberry Growers Alliance, testified about the importance of the Alliance’s formation and its role in protecting its domestic crop.
“We officially launched our Alliance in December for the same reasons we are before you today. The U.S. blueberry growers needed a new approach to protect and secure the future of their farms and to respond to the assault on the U.S. market by blueberry imports,” Crosby said. “We require a strong and unified voice for the U.S. blueberry grower without the influence of domestic or foreign marketer or retailers seeking lower and lower prices.”
Crosby said imports of fresh blueberries have increased 75% over the past five years. It is only expected to worsen as prices and profits continue to plummet for U.S. producers.
“We fully expect a variable tidal wave of imported blueberries in the next several years,” Crosby said. “Substantial portions of the industry report losses on an operating and net income basis. Packing and freezing facilities have been shuttered. Blueberry acreage has declined.
“The injury to the domestic industry is serious, clear and wide spread. It’s caused by the flood of imports into the U.S. market.”