A bipartisan group of Florida’s congressional delegation is asking U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to conduct an investigation into important agricultural products from Mexico.
“Mexico’s scheme to displace Florida’s seasonal and perishable agricultural industry from the U.S. market is an unreasonable trade practice that constitutes export targeting,” reads the letter, signed by 23 members of the Florida delegation.
The group filed a petition for relief under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The petition, as the group’s letter notes, claims “Mexico poses a direct threat to Florida’s seasonal and perishable agricultural industry, endangers the long-term food security of the U.S., and raises the prospect that Mexico will become an unchallenged hegemon in the winter and spring fruit and vegetable supply chain, with the ability to set market prices that harm American consumers.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson are leading the effort.
The Sept. 8 letter and attached petition claim Mexico’s exports are a direct threat to President Joe Biden’s administration’s “intention to protect and reinvigorate critical supply chains within the U.S.”
In a news release from Rubio’s Office, he claims Mexico has “leveraged heavy subsidies and low wages in a scheme to conduct a ‘conquest of external markets’ and displace Florida’s seasonal and perishable agricultural industry from the domestic U.S. market.”
Florida Ag Coalition Chair Gene Adams agrees, noting that Florida farmers, growers and ranchers produce food for American families, 88% of which operate small, local farms.
“Yet, the long-term sustainability of their operations are at serious risk due to unjust international trade practices. Suppliers are turning to foreign countries for produce, threatening the livelihood of these growers in Florida, the future of the domestic food supply and an important sector of the state’s economy,” Adams said.
He added Florida cannot depend on other countries for a safe, domestic food supply.
In addition to Rubio and Lawson, other Florida congressional delegation signatories include:
— U.S. Sen. Rick Scott
— U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis
— U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan
— U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack
— U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor
— U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch
— U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart
— U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds
— U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn
— U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin
— U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez
— U.S. Rep. Brian Mast
— U.S. Rep. Bill Posey
— U.S. Rep. John Rutherford
— U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar
— U.S. Rep. Darren Soto
— U.S. Rep. Greg Steube
— U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz
— U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
— U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster
— U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson
U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is named in the letter, but her signature is not included.