Rep. Austin Scott Co-Leads Bipartisan Letter to ITC on Investigation Into Unfair Trade Practices that Harm American Specialty Crop Producers
WASHINGTON, DC – Late yesterday, Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA-08) and Darren Soto (D-FL-09) co-led a bipartisan letter to the International Trade Commission (ITC) expressing support for a Section 332 investigation for cucumbers and squash as American specialty crop producers struggle with unfair trade practices that negatively impact operations.
“Seasonal cucumber and squash imports from Mexico continue to dramatically impact U.S. markets and threaten the future of domestic farm production of perishable produce,” wrote the Members. “This Section 332 investigation by the ITC for cucumbers and squash is needed to make a meaningful determination as to the impact of these seasonal imports on our markets. Market changes occur quickly and can devastate a grower’s season in a matter of days if imports increase and the resulting price decreases coincide with harvest. We appreciate your efforts on behalf of our growers and rural communities.”
The letter is supported by Georgia Farm Bureau, Florida Farm Bureau, Michigan Farm Bureau, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association, and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.
“Georgia Farm Bureau agrees with U.S. Representatives Austin Scott and Darren Soto that a Section 332 investigation for cucumbers and squash is necessary to determine the full impact that imported produce is having on domestic growers. In recent years, Georgia farmers—along with farmers in many other U.S. states—have struggled to compete with the growing surge of imported fresh fruits and vegetables, and as noted by the reports highlighted in the letter, the problem will only get worse unless U.S. officials step in. We are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Scott and Soto along with the other Members of Congress who joined this important effort,” said Tom McCall, President of Georgia Farm Bureau.
“The several specialty crop states represented on this letter should signal a growing national concern for our agriculture sector,” said John L. Hoblick, President of Florida Farm Bureau. “Florida agriculture, and our rural communities as a result, is at a crossroads. This investigation on squash and cucumbers is a helpful start toward a fair solution for our domestic producers, and we applaud our federal policymakers for standing with us.”
"GFVGA appreciates the continued support and leadership of Congressman Austin Scott on the fight against unfair trade. Georgia fruit and vegetable growers face an uneven playing field due to cheap imports that threaten the future of Georgia produce," said Charles Hall, Executive Director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.
“For decades, unfair trade practices from Mexico and other foreign sources have caused immense harm to produce growers in Florida, including significant lost sales and market share, unsustainably low unfair prices, and shuttered family farms,” said Mike Joyner, president of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association. “Trade relief is desperately needed for our cucumber and squash growers, and more than 20 other specialty crops in Florida that are also facing harmful impacts and a highly uncertain future due to unfair imports. We applaud the commitment of Rep. Darren Soto and Rep. Austin Scott to help growers and ensure American families are not forced to rely on foreign sources for fresh fruits and vegetables.”
In November, Rep. Scott sent a similar letter to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) requesting ITC begin a Section 332 investigation into squash and cucumber imports. Click here to read more.
You can read the text of the letter below or by clicking here.
April 6, 2021
U.S. International Trade Commission
500 E Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20436
RE: Investigation Nos. 332-584
Dear Chairman Kearns and Commissioners:
We want to express our support for the Section 332 investigation for cucumbers and squash as requested by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The Section 332 investigation will provide assistance to American produce growers as they struggle with seasonal imports during their harvest season. Seasonal cucumber and squash imports from Mexico continue to dramatically impact U.S. markets and threaten the future of domestic farm production of perishable produce. Import data from land grant universities and state departments of agriculture affirm that seasonal imported squash and cucumbers negatively impact our vegetable growers, their markets, and communities.
According to a recent report by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the total weight of squash shipped into or within the U.S. has increased by 13.75% between 2015 to 2020. Of this increase, 84.49% is accounted for by imports from Mexico. While imported squash from Mexico has increased in both volume and market share as U.S. demand for fresh and chilled squash increases, the growth in the size of the overall market did not translate into growth for domestic producers.
The FDACS report also indicated a similar trend in market share decline for cucumber producing states. Florida, Georgia, and Michigan, our nation’s top producing cucumber states, have each seen a significant reduction in market share and shipment weight ranging from 35% to 63% in the last 20 years. However, in 2020 the market share of imported cucumbers from Mexico was at a 34% increase with a shipment weight of 1.5 billion pounds (134% increase). As the total weight of cucumbers shipped into or within the U.S. has increased 75% in the past 20 years, from 1.2 billion pounds to 2.1 billion pounds, 853 million pounds is accounted for by imports from Mexico (94.7%). Like squash, the growth of the overall market did not translate into growth for domestic producers.
Additionally, a 2019 economic study by the University of Georgia suggests that if import and pricing trends continue, rural Georgia economies face the loss of $1 billion in economic impact including 8,000 jobs. This Section 332 investigation by the ITC for cucumbers and squash is needed to make a meaningful determination as to the impact of these seasonal imports on our markets. Market changes occur quickly and can devastate a grower’s season in a matter of days if imports increase and the resulting price decreases coincide with harvest. Please feel free to contact us for additional information. We appreciate your efforts on behalf of our growers and rural communities.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA-08)
Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL-09)
Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA-12)
Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI-01)
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02)
Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL-03)
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA-01)
Rep. Val Demings (D-FL-10)
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL-22)
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25)
Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL-02)
Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA-03)
Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL-15)
Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL-26)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20)
Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA-10)
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI-02)
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI-05)
Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL-05)
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL-18)
Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI-10)
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-07)
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL-08)
Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL-04)
Rep. David Scott (D-GA-13)
Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL-17)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI-06)
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23)
Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL-11)
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24)