Florida producers will continue to struggle if the issue of Mexican imports is not addressed, says Zhengfei Guan, UF/IFAS Associate Professor in the Food and Resource Economics Department.
Farmers in the Sunshine State will always face an uphill battle if imports of such crops like tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries and blueberries are allowed to continue.
“They’re going to have a tough time if the Mexican imports issue is not addressed. Florida production of some major crops have been declining over the years. The imports have been increasing dramatically over the last two decades,” Guan said.
“Tomatoes, for example, back in the year 2000, we had more production than the imports from Mexico. The production from Florida was 20% higher than the imports from Mexico. But over the last 20 years, things have changed dramatically, Now, the Mexican imports in the United States market are five times more than Florida production. That’s a dramatic shift of the market position.”
Florida producers like Sam Accursio and Kim Jamerson have voiced their concerns about the impact that imports have had on their farming operations. Both have hinted at ending their farming careers. It’s not because their love for feeding the world has faded. But imports have made it unsustainable for American farmers to continue growing and producing food.
“Once (Mexico) got into the game, they caught up very fast. Basically, they started blueberry exports to the United States about 10 years ago, around 2009. In a period of 10 years, they increased exports to the United States by more than a 100-fold. That’s really, really dramatic,” Guan said.
Click here for more information from UF regarding the rise of imports.