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Congressman Austin Scott

Representing the 8th District of Georgia

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Prioritizing Anti-Dumping Policies in NAFTA Renegotiation (The Hill)

November 10, 2017
Editorial
By: Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08) and Rep. Neal Dunn (FL-02)

The United States is fortunate to be one of the only countries in the world with an agricultural industry capable of meeting the monumental challenge of feeding not only itself, but also its friends and neighbors around the world.

One of the biggest issues American producers currently face is the challenge of combating the “dumping” of foreign subsidized crops into U.S. markets below the cost of production.

Making sure we have protections from these unfair trade practices for U.S. farmers—like producers of seasonal and perishable crops—is vital to the continued stabilization and growth of the U.S. agricultural sector.

Unlike other crops such as corn, wheat, and rice, producers of seasonal and perishable crops do not have the option of storing their yields until market prices stabilize. From harvest to market, these goods must be sold in a narrow window, giving farmers little time to cope with import injury.

In recent years, Mexico’s increase of specialty crop exports to the United States under the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has had a profoundly negative impact on fresh fruit and vegetable sectors, resulting in a significant loss of agricultural cash receipts. To a great extent, Mexican fruit and vegetable producers have been able to achieve this extraordinary growth because of unfair Mexican subsidies, making it nearly impossible for American producers to viably compete.

When these farmers face import surges and foreign dumping and subsidy practices, current U.S. import remedies are not well structured to provide relief. That leaves growers in important farming regions like Florida, Georgia, and elsewhere far more exposed than they should be to unfair and often devastating import injury.

Measures to modernize U.S. trade remedies for our growers are long overdue. During the early rounds of the NAFTA renegotiation, the Trump Administration sought the ability for seasonal and perishable producers to pursue trade cases based on their own marketing season. Dozens of our Congressional colleagues have joined us in praising the Trump Administration for seeking this change, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to find remedies and resources to aid farmers that have been hurt by unfair trade practices.

When seasonal and perishable growers can prove that unfair trading practices are causing injury, they should have readily available tools to save their businesses and the thousands of jobs across rural America that support them. After years of bipartisan support for seasonal and perishable import-relief improvements, this Administration is to be commended for taking the steps necessary to get those improvements done.

Rep. Neal Dunn represents the Second Congressional District of Florida and Rep. Austin Scott represents the Eighth Congressional District of Georgia. Both members serve on the House Committee on Agriculture.

 

This piece originally appeared in The Hill on Friday, November 10, 2017.