Mutual Reacts to Federal Plan for Imports

Ernie NeffTrade

A recently announced Trump administration plan (see the full 28-page document) to address the threat posed by increased foreign imports to American producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables does not specifically address citrus. But Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) Executive Vice President/CEO Mike Sparks noted that many of Florida’s other fruits and vegetables weren’t specifically addressed in the plan, either.

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Mike Sparks

“What’s encouraging about this document is the fact that they do recognize and establish an inter-agency working group,” Sparks said. “For those that participated (with testimony about imports) and those that had issues, there will continue to be a dialogue. The door was not shut. It was good that the issue remains open.”

On August 20, Sparks testified via Zoom to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), The U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the effects of Mexican orange juice imports into the United States. It was part of a larger hearing on trade with Mexico and the U.S. specialty crop industry. The main point of Sparks’ 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. See more on Sparks testimony here.

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The federal plan to address the concerns voiced by numerous agriculturists during the August testimony period outlines actions to be taken by the USTR, USDOC and USDA. The plan includes requests for investigations by the International Trade Commission, senior-level talks with the Mexican government, the formation of the inter-agency working group, and more.  

“Florida Citrus Mutual is concerned with imported orange juice as well as fresh citrus,” Sparks said. “We continue to look forward to working with the USTR and the inter-agency working group. In addition, we continue to explore other trade remedies.”

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large