Florida Citrus Mutual Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Sparks recently testified to federal officials regarding the effects of orange juice (OJ) imports from Mexico. His testimony to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was part of a larger hearing on trade with Mexico and the U.S. specialty crop industry.
“The main point of my testimony was to ask the USTR, the USDOC and the USDA to explore all remedies to level the playing field with the Mexican industry and to safeguard Florida citrus growers from surging imports,” Sparks said. “We will continue to follow up on this most important issue with our colleagues in the fruit and vegetable industry.”
In his testimony, Sparks said Florida citrus “is now in jeopardy, because of rising imports, especially from Mexico.”
Sparks testified that due to HLB over the past decade, “our production took a hit, which the Mexican citrus industry exploited. Imports from Mexico came in and filled the gap and have kept U.S. inventories high. Our production is coming back but the imports keep coming, too. No matter what the market needs. U.S. demand has softened over the years, and yet the imports still arrived. When inventories are high, grower returns are low and stay low, because of the imports. It is making it impossible for our growers to cover their production costs.”
“If this threat is not resolved, foreign production will drive Florida citrus out of business and imports will take full control of the U.S. market,” Sparks said. “Our request today: as you consider how best to address the problems of our seasonal and perishable colleagues, please keep the Florida citrus industry in mind. The problems they face are the problems we face.”
See Sparks’ full testimony regarding the Mexican imports here.
Source: Florida Citrus Mutual
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