Remedy to EU Grapefruit Tariffs Sought

Ernie NeffTrade

tariffs
grapefruit

The European Union (EU) recently imposed approximately $4 billion in tariffs on U.S. grapefruit and other agricultural products. The tariffs, authorized by the World Trade Organization, are punishment for U.S. subsidies for the Boeing Company.  

“Once again U.S. agriculture is caught in the crossfire of a dispute that is not of our making and we are used as leverage in trade negotiations,” Florida grapefruit grower and packer Dan Richey said. Richey, president of Riverfront Packing Company in Vero Beach, has long been actively involved in international trade issues involving fresh citrus.

“The tariff (on grapefruit) prior to the recent change amounted to approximately 45 cents per carton,” Richey said. “The new rate … will amount to approximately $6 plus or minus per carton.”

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The new tariff rate “will obviously cause a bit of a challenge,” Richey said. “We continue to work diligently with the USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) office, USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and our congressional delegation to search for some remedy to this issue. Of all the products on the (EU tariff) list, I could argue that U.S. grapefruit is, if not the most impacted, certainly one of the most impacted.”

“The European market is one that this industry (Florida citrus) has developed over the past 40 years,” Richey continued. “We have invested millions of dollars through the MAP program (USDA Market Access Program) to do so. A quick remedy to this is the preferred outcome.”

Texas, on the other hand, ships its grapefruit primarily to North American markets, said Dale Murden, president of Texas Citrus Mutual and a Texas grower. Only about 3 to 4 percent of the Texas grapefruit crop is exported to Europe and other non-North American destinations, Murden added. 

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large