The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the pending renegotiation of the agreement was a hot topic at the University of Florida over the weekend where the House Agriculture Committee held a 2018 Farm Bill hearing.
During the first House listening session of 2018, farmers and industry representatives attending the gathering hoped to impact legislators as they write the new Farm Bill.
While concerns about safety nets, research and marketing were at the top of mind for many, specialty crop growers in the Sunshine State say NAFTA is a leading concern.
“Other parts of the United States have experienced greater market access with increased foreign demand of our agricultural products through this agreement,” said John Hoblick, president of the Florida Farm Bureau. “Florida has indisputably struggled. We have seen dramatic reductions in market share in key Florida specialty crop markets.”
Hoblick says crops like strawberries, tomatoes, and bell peppers have experienced “prolific Mexican dumping” into the market.
“Free but fair has become the hallmark of this administration’s trade policy agenda,” said Hoblick. “Florida agriculture is looking forward to seeing that vision become a reality, specifically for our specialty crop producers.
Farm labor and the H2-A program also received attention during the hearing. As one of the heaviest users of the program, Florida farmers say the program is slow, expensive, and inefficient.