Florida farmer Marie Bedner said it best: “We need relief, and we need it now.”
The Florida farmer testified on Thursday during the U.S. International Trade Commission hearing regarding the impact that imports of squash and cucumbers are having on the domestic industry.
Bedner cited Mexico’s low labor costs and government subsidies for how Mexico can sell its produce for a fraction of what growers like Bedner need. One of her biggest gripes, though, is the act of dumping produce.
“Our sales team has been told by one of the large buyers that truckloads of Mexican cucumbers will be delivered to his dock during our season with an open ticket. This means that a buyer can pay whatever price they want per box,” Bedner said. “Our operation cost per box of cucumbers is substantially more than what it is for growers in Mexico. A box of our produce has a set price that we simply cannot drop below because of what our expenses are to produce that box. Not surprisingly, the buyer stops purchasing American grown produce from us and takes that Mexican grown produce at a fraction of the cost of our load.
“It’s a classic case of dumping that occurs frequently, and it’s getting much, more worse.”
It’s gotten worse because nothing has been done to curtail the practice. Hopefully, for Florida and Georgia producers that will soon change. It needs to if American agriculture is going to survive.
“Their costs to produce that box of produce is significantly less than ours. This puts us at an extreme disadvantage on a playing field that doesn’t come close to being level,” Bedner said. “The future of farming in our area in South Florida is very bleak. Up and down the road from our location, growers have made the decision to sell their land because they simply can’t compete.”