Georgia delegation asks USTR to broaden import investigation
U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) along with U.S. Reps. Rick Allen (R-Dist. 12), Sanford Bishop (D-Dist. 2), Buddy Carter (R-Dist. 1) and Austin Scott (R-Dist. 8) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer requesting the USTR’s current Section 332 investigation for strawberries and bell pepper be broadened to include the impact of seasonal cucumber and squash imports on Southeastern markets.
“Fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico continue to dramatically impact U.S. markets and threaten the future of domestic farm production of perishable produce,” the senators wrote. “In the last twelve months, we have seen further growth in imports across several vegetable products.”
The senators noted that prices have followed supply, with growers reporting tumbling prices across the board for vegetables. Prices are now well below U.S. production costs for several of these commodities and appear to correlate directly with increasing fall shipments from Mexico.
“We were pleased to see that USTR has requested a Section 332 for strawberries and bell peppers. However, we believe the inclusion of other commodities, such as cucumbers and squash, in the Section 332 request, would provide some assistance to growers as they continue to struggle with seasonal imports for the upcoming harvest season,” wrote the congressmen.
In September, the USTR, USDA and the Department of Commerce launched a series of actions aimed at helping Southeastern produce growers overcome the effects of extensive produce imports.