During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump delivered a consistent message that he would renegotiate and/or throw out trade agreements that do not “put America first,” specifically referencing the need to keep and increase American jobs. Since winning election, President Trump has followed through on that message with actions such as withdrawing the United States from negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and serving notice that his administration wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These actions have the potential to not only disrupt fruit and vegetable imports and harm many U.S. companies/United Fresh members, but could also generate significant retaliation by other countries toward U.S. exports. U.S. fruit and vegetable growers and marketers of all sizes can no longer rely on domestic production as the primary source of product to serve the demand of the U.S. marketplace. Consumers today demand year-round availability of produce commodities regardless of geographical growing season. To meet that demand, many U.S. growers have formed partnerships with non-U.S. producers and many have invested in their own operations overseas. The challenge to U.S. producers of overly burdensome regulations, lack of a legal workforce, and lack of political will to address pressing infrastructure issues such as water availability, also push U.S producers overseas.
At the same time, many U.S. producers are dependent upon export markets for a significant and growing proportion of sales. Rather than erecting barriers that protect internal producers, these companies and commodities require trade agreements with other countries that facilitate trade. While opportunities are substantial in the global market, so too are the barriers and challenges. Therefore, the basic challenge for the global fruit and vegetable industry, including the U.S. marketplace, is creating a trading economy that is open and fair, treating both exports and imports with similar trading standards and scientific evaluation of sanitary and phytosanitary issues.
NAFTA renegotiations are expected to continue in early 2018 with fresh fruit and vegetable imports/exports remaining as one of the key issues to be addressed. The U.S. fruit and vegetable industry, and partners around the globe, need to influence the Trump Administration and Congress to enact only sound agricultural trade policies that preserve opportunities for market access for fresh fruits and vegetables. United Fresh believes trade agreements should not establish barriers that protect internal producers and should include a common produce industry approach to working with the Administration on trade. We also believe in an increase in education for policymakers about the importance of trade to our industry and the pursuit of trade agreements that eliminate unfair, discriminatory and non-science-based regulatory barriers overseas that disadvantage U.S. fruit and vegetable producers.
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Key Facts on Trade
- Total fresh fruit and vegetable exports worldwide were over $7 billion in 2016.
- Total fresh fruit and vegetable imports have an annual value of nearly $10 billion.
- The United States has the lowest consumer expenditure of food consumed at home in the world at 6.4 percent.
- Over the last five years, overall fresh fruit and vegetable sales to our NAFTA partners have totaled more than $25.1 billion.
- U.S. Agricultural exports to NAFTA countries directly and indirectly supported 509,332 jobs in 2016.
United Fresh Trade Activities
May 19, 2017 | United Fresh Letter to Secretary Perdue on MRL Database
February 22, 2017 | Letter to President Trump on USDA Trade Under Secretary Position
January 23, 2017 | US Agriculture Letter to President Trump on Trade
January 5, 2017 | Import Certification Letter to USDA