May 4, 2018Florida, Georgia blueberry growers seek inclusion in NAFTA
The Florida Blueberry Growers Association (FBGA) and Georgia Blueberry Growers Association (GBGA) sent a joint letter May 1 to their congressmen asking that provisions to protect the blueberry industry of Florida and Georiga be included in North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations (NAFTA).
“The Florida and Georgia blueberry industries have experienced growth and stability in the recent past, however the competitive disadvantage with the large volumes of low priced fruit has resulted in a collapsing market, and a continual and rapid decline in pricing. It is impossible for our blueberry growers to compete.
In 2015, combined Florida and Georgia blueberry industry was estimated to be a $186 million industry which translated to an economic impact of approximately twice that.
Among the other challenges the industry is facing this spring, the massive importation of Mexican blueberries is crippling. So far this season, Mexico has imported 43.5 million pounds of fresh blueberries (into the U.S.) while Florida and Georgia growers have produced about half of that.”
“While our industry has experienced growth and stability in the recent past, the competitive disadvantage with large volumes of low priced fruit has resulted in a collapsing market, and a continual and rapid decline in pricing” Brittany Lee, president of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association. “We applaud the administration’s commitment to renegotiating with Mexico and Canada, and hope that considerations will be made that will help protect our blueberry industry in the Southeast – the viability of our industry is at stake.”