USITC: Blueberry imports do not seriously injure U.S. growers
On. Feb. 11, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that fresh, chilled, or frozen blueberries are not being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat of serious injury, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported article.
Farm Bureau and other U.S. agricultural groups, who sought the investigation, expressed disappointment in the outcome.
“Seasonal fruit and vegetable farmers face unfair competition from foreign growers and today’s decision demonstrates that much work still needs to be done to address international trade imbalances. Increases in lower-priced fresh, chilled and frozen blueberries during seasonal harvest times in the U.S. leads to lower prices for domestic growers,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a written statement. “Since domestic farmers are price-takers, not price-makers, they need time to adjust their operations to the increased import levels.”
Ag stakeholder groups were joined by elected representatives in pushing for the investigation, which was formally requested by then U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Sept. 29, 2020.
“It is no secret that American fruit and vegetable growers have been reeling from the negative impacts of foreign imports, including blueberry growers,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-Georgia 8th District), a member of the House Agriculture Committee. “I’m very disappointed and surprised to see ITC rule that increased foreign imports of blueberries have not caused injury to the domestic industry while, in many cases, the situation is so bad that it isn’t economical for U.S. growers to even harvest their blueberry crop. I will continue to press for a remedy to level the playing field for American blueberry growers. We cannot continue to allow the volume of foreign imports that devastate our domestic industry.”
The USITC determination was made under section 202 of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. § 2252) at the request of the U.S. trade representative. Information about this investigation and global safeguard investigations in general can be found at https://tinyurl.com/USITCbbfactsheet. The Commission’s determination resulted from a 5-0 vote. Chair Jason E. Kearns, Vice Chair Randolph J. Stayin, and Commissioners David S. Johanson, Rhonda K. Schmidtlein, and Amy A. Karpel voted in the negative.
As a result, the investigation will end and the USITC will not recommend a remedy to the president. The commission will submit its report containing its injury determination and the basis for it to President Biden by March 29.
A public report concerning the investigation will be available after the commission submits its report to the president.