SCFBA’s Recommendations for Farm Bill Highlight Unfair Trade

Web Admin Farm Bill

By Clint Thompson

A contentious issue at the heart of specialty crop farmers in Georgia and Florida is one of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA)’s main core principles for the 2023 Farm Bill.

Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance

It focuses on trade and foreign competition which has frustrated fruit and vegetable growers for decades. Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council and co-chair of the SCFBA, talked about the subject of unfair trade.

“We had a long discussion about the impact of imports coming in, how that’s impacting folks in Georgia, Florida, even out in California. I think there’s a real sensitivity and a specific statement in the recommendations that highlights how impactful these imports are and, I think the collective voice of the industry is that the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) USDA, (U.S. Trade Representative) USTR, everybody needs to take a look at this and consider what it means for specialty crop producers across the U.S.,” Quarles said.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) conducted a study on more than 20 commodities from 2000 to 2020. The research showed declines in market share for 20 commodities, while 13 Mexican commodities experienced market share increases of more than 100%.

FDACS also proved that Florida growers lost between 10% and 20% in sales every year, amounting to between $1.3 billion and $2.6 billion annually.

Georgia farmers are feeling similar impacts, specifically with cucumbers, squash, bell peppers and blueberries. These commodities have been monitored or underwent an investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission in the past couple of years.

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance comprises more than 200 specialty crop organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products, released its recommendations for the farm bill last week.

The SCFBA’s 2023 Farm Bill recommendations represent the most comprehensive set of ideas from the coalition to date, including 109 specific recommendations covering eight Farm Bill titles.