Nogales, AZ — Arizona Senators sent US. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer strong letters reiterating their commitment to safeguard against policies that would install tariffs on seasonal fresh produce, raising prices at supermarkets.

Despite widespread opposition, Southeastern interest groups have been pushing for a so-called “seasonality” produce provision since the onset of negotiations of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The seasonality provision was rejected by many U.S. agriculture groups, as well as a bipartisan group of 23 Congressmen. Despite this, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to the Florida and Georgia delegations on January 9, 2020, outlining the Administration’s intention to consider punitive measures on seasonal produce that may raise the prices consumers pay.

Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally took exception to Ambassador Lighthizer’s letter to the Southeastern Congressmen.

“I am extremely disappointed that you have promised my Colleagues in the Southeast a plan that masquerades as fairness for U.S. farmers but instead raises the specter of future trade conflicts that will harm businesses in my state,” wrote Sen. McSally.

Insisting that USTR maintain an unbiased approach in its approach, Sen. Sinema wrote, “I expect that your office will fully consider a range of information, including studies from research institutions across the country.”

For years the Florida growers have tried to undermine U.S. trade relationships by pushing for protectionist measures to unduly restrict the market. They raise a specter of unfair subsidies as a major justification for their request, yet they present no credible proof of trade-distorting policies.

As was clearly shown during the USMCA negotiations, the majority of U.S. agriculture rejects seasonality provisions because of the harm it could bring to U.S. growers that export to other countries, including apples, grains, soybeans, and more. They understood that a seasonality provision was designed to help a small group of producers in Florida at the expense of many other domestic agriculture groups that would be harmed in tit-for-tat trade skirmishes in key export markets.

The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) applauds Arizona Senators stepping up for the livelihood of their constitutes by opposing any seasonality measure and urging the USTR to fully consider the studies from research institutions across the country when compiling information on policies that contribute to pricing in the U.S. market for seasonal and perishable products to assess the impact of these on U.S. producers of the seasonal and perishable products.

About the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas:

Founded in 1944, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) is a nonprofit trade association headquartered in Nogales, Arizona, that represents over 120 U.S. member companies involved in importing and marketing fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Mexico and distributed across North America and the world.

1.16.20 Ambassador Lighthizer re-seasonality produce provision21

Letter to USTR Lighthizer McSally

06.14.2019 az ca tx delgation seasonality ltr_signed


Agriculture Letter Seasonal Produce 8.15.18 Final PDF