USITC Investigation: Future of Cucumbers, Squashes Markets at Stake

Clint Thompson Exports/Imports, Florida, Top Posts

By Clint Thompson

Southeast vegetable and specialty crop producers should find out in the next couple of months the impact of two factfinding investigations by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) on the effects of imported cucumbers and squashes on the U.S. seasonal markets.

It could have significant ramifications for future markets for both commodities, said John Walt Boatright, director of National Affairs at Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

“We’re looking forward to seeing those reports happen. It’s the culmination of an 18-month process where the ITC has been collecting data, collecting information and trying to determine what the effects are to our domestic industry,” Boatright said. “Once those reports are released, we’re hoping that hopefully leads to an action plan by this administration to take some long-term action towards the seasonal and perishable concerns. This is no longer a one-state, one-commodity issue. It used to be talking about a few select vegetable crops. Now we’re seeing dozens of fruits and vegetables being impacted by Mexican unfair trade practices.”

USITC Reports

The USITC expects to transmit both of its reports to the USTR no later than December 7, 2021.

Boatright spoke to Florida blueberry producers last week, the same growers who were dealt a serious blow by the ITC’s verdict in February that imports of fresh, chilled or frozen blueberries were not a serious injury to the domestic industry. He understands the frustration being felt by all producers.

“It is a tough issue because we are talking about their livelihoods here. In often times, it’s a multi-generational family farms that we’re talking about. I understand the frustration. It seems like now more than ever, the challenges in D.C. are overwhelming, the policy priorities that need to happen and need to be achieved,” Boatright said.

“But now more than ever we need these producers, we need Florida farmers and ranchers to help us help them. That includes being involved in these important grower associations like the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, like Florida Farm Bureau, in helping us tell their story in a way that makes an impact and conveys a need to improve the situation here.”