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The U.S. fruit and vegetable industry and American co sumers are highly dependent upon international trade, both exports from the U.S. and imports into the country. However, specific patterns of trade vary greatly among different commodities.

For example, exports are a major part of U.S. apple production, while the vast majority of avocados consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico, Chile and Peru. In addition, consumers today demand 24-7 availability of produce commodities regardless of geographical growing season. With this diversity, our industry has always supported free and fair trade globally, seeking to open markets to U.S products while committing to reciprocal access for products to the United States.

Recent trade actions by the administration have further complicated the uncertainty of foreign markets for U. S. agriculture. Between China and the U.S. levying retaliatory tariffs that specifically impact on the produce industry, as well as the potential renegotiation of NAFTA and subsequent retaliatory actions by each country involved, trade issues have never been more relevant. The actions taken by each country have triggered a flurry of tariff announcements and have poisoned the well with regards to future free trade agreements.

Trade across the NAFTA countries serves both consumers and deeply connected supply chains in all countries, providing significant jobs not only in agriculture but in processing and distribution. 

Trade Issue Brief
State Profiles of Produce Across America

Take Action On This Issue!Grassroots Action Network

Make your voice heard! Go to United Fresh’s grassroots website for easy, quick steps you can take to tell Congress to act on trade issues now!

Trade by the Numbers

  • 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.

Key Messaging Points

  • Congress must work to ensure Congressional passage of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which will provide greater certainty for United Fresh members.
  • It is essential that we find appropriate ways to support those segments of the U.S. fruit and vegetable sector that have been disadvantaged by some aspects of trade.
  • We must work toward new trade agreements that establish long-term certainty for businesses and facilitate trade, rather than erecting barriers that protect their internal producers.

Trade Mitigation

American farmers have been targeted and have suffered the most as a result of unjustified foreign retaliatory tariffs. In particular, fruits and vegetables have been severely impacted. Not only have markets been disrupted (forcing prices to be raised), but it has been increasingly difficult for U.S. grown products to reach foreign markets due to difficult entry processes. In September, USDA announced a trade mitigation plan that would help growers and commodities from across the country who are suffering from the current trade climate.

As part of their mitigation plan, there are three buckets of funding for programs: the Market Facilitation Program, the Agriculture Trade Promotion Program, and the Food Purchase and Distribution Program.

Watch Secretary Perdue’s overview of the different programs here.

  • Market Facilitation Program ($4.6 billion)To be administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), MFP will provide up to $4.6 billion in payments to corn, cotton, dairy, soybean, sorghum, hog and wheat producers. This program began in September 2018.
    • Applications can be found here.
    • Read USDA’s latest press release to see the most recent updates to the MFP.
    • Click here to find out if you are eligible, to see the included commodities, and for more resources.  
  • Agriculture Trade Promotion Program ($200 million) – this will help commodities looking for NEW markets. FAS will accept applications on a rolling basis until November 2, 2018. More details can be found here.
    • For more information on how to apply, click here.
    • More details can be found here.
  • Food Purchase and Distribution Program ($1.2 billion)on October 1, 2018 AMS started to purchase products over four quarters in the new Federal fiscal year for USDA AMS to purchase commodities that have been impacted by trade war.  This will be on top of current Section 32 purchases. Approximately $300 million is available for fresh produce purchase.

Press Releases

USDA has released a number of press releases regarding the trade mitigation programs. To view the press releases, please select the date below.

Additional Resources

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, Public Policy. 

To learn more about trade please contact John Hollay, Senior Director, Government Relations & Public Policy.