Industry Groups and Elected Officials Support American Blueberry Growers

A broad coalition of industry groups, elected officials, and state agricultural leaders, including U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters of Michigan, stand up to defend the interests of U.S. blueberry growers by submitting letters of support to the Commission. of International Trade. (ITC) on the serious injury caused by increased imports of foreign blueberries, announced the American Blueberry Growers Alliance (ABGA).

“Conducting this investigation is important to assess the full extent of the impact of these imports on domestic producers,” according to a February 3 letter co-signed by my Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Speaker of the Senate US Agriculture and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.). "It is vital to maintain a national cranberry industry in the United States so that American families are not dependent on foreign imports for our food supply."

In a letter sent to the ITC on February 5, the National Farmers Union (NFU) noted that growers' operating returns fell 32,4 percent between 2015 and 2019 due to increased imports. “The significant increase in low-priced blueberry imports in recent years, coupled with the timing of these imports during US harvest periods, has had a devastating effect on blueberry growers, processors, and communities. rural US where they live and work. said Rob Larew, president of NFU, which represents approximately 200,000 farming and ranching families in the United States. "The concerns of farmers whose markets are adversely affected by imports, and the data that supports those claims, must be taken seriously."

The Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Georgia Farm Bureau, and the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association also sent letters to ITC last week, highlighting the far-reaching consequences of increased blueberry imports into the United States, including for American consumers. "These imports not only threaten domestic businesses and livelihoods, but also expose American consumers to products from countries with poor or inconsistent product safety records," said John Hoblick, president of the Federation of Agricultural Bureaus of Florida of 136.000 members.

Additionally, in a recent letter signed by 21 industry groups, Bill Bullard, executive director of R-CALF USA, urged the Commission to recognize the serious harm affecting domestic blueberry growers, adding: “Blueberry growers deserve the opportunity to sell their products in the United States. States at reasonable prices and deserve the respite of effective safeguard relief to make the necessary adjustments to maintain a safe national supply of blueberries."

These statements of support follow similar comments made to the ITC during a January 12 hearing where several members of Congress testified in support of U.S. blueberry growers, including U.S. Representatives Austin Scott (R-Ga. ), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.), Gregory Steube (R-Fla.) And John Rutherford (R-Fla.), As well as the Agriculture Commissioner of Georgia Gary Black and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nicole Fried.

"Year after year, our farmers prove resilient in the face of big challenges," Fried said. “While we cannot stop pandemics or natural disasters, this is a challenge that ITC can take on. America's growers are the best in the world, and ITC can help them succeed by providing a level playing field for our growers to compete. ”

In December, the Alliance also received support from a bipartisan coalition of 32 members of Congress in a letter urging the ITC to make an affirmative determination in the case, in addition to a letter signed by eight members of the Michigan delegation to the House. of Representatives. .

These letters and comments come before the ITC vote to determine whether the national blueberry industry has been seriously injured or is threatened with serious damage from the influx of imports from countries such as Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Canada. , which is scheduled. which will take place on February 11. Blueberry imports have increased 62 percent since 2015, as these countries have increased production to sell to the US market, increasingly during the US harvest windows.

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