The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today 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.
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.
Earlier this month, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried testified before the ITC that Mexico’s market share for blueberries had skyrocketed 2,100 percent since 2009, while Florida’s market share decreased 38 percent since 2015, indicating serious economic damage.
Fried was joined in testifying by Florida blueberry growers and industry groups including the American Blueberry Growers Alliance, the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.
On today’s ITC determination, Commissioner Fried offered the following statement, “Today’s ITC determination is disappointing for our hardworking blueberry growers who have watched foreign imported blueberries unjustly replace Florida’s world-class fruit in the U.S. market. This shows the need for greater reforms as Florida’s congressional delegation has proposed that would provide access to effective trade remedies for all seasonal producers – legislation which will be again introduced. The data proves that Florida’s seasonal growers have suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in economic injury from foreign blueberry imports. With Florida producing farm-fresh seasonal and perishable commodities for 150 million Americans, we will continue fighting to prevent being further seriously harmed by unfair foreign trade practices.”
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said, “Today’s disappointing decision by the ITC ignores the plight of Florida’s blueberry growers, who have endured increasingly predatory and unfair competition from Mexican imports for years,” Rubio said. “Relief for Florida’s fruit and vegetable growers is long overdue, and I remain committed to securing immediate, effective, enforceable, and durable solutions to unfair import competition. I am a firm believer that food security is national security,”
Rubio continued, “Tens of millions of Americans rely on food grown in Florida during the winter and spring months, when harvests cannot take place in the rest of the country. To ensure that America’s food supply chains are free from malicious market manipulations by foreign importers, we must ensure that Florida’s growers can compete in a fair market environment. Unfortunately, the current market is neither free nor fair. It is my hope that the Biden Administration will work with me, and Florida’s bipartisan congressional delegation, to chart a path forward from here.”
As a result of today’s vote, the investigation will end, and the Commission will not recommend a remedy to the President.
The Commission will submit its report containing its injury determination and the basis for it to the President by March 29, 2021.