On May 4, the Florida Blueberry Growers Association (FBGA) and Georgia Blueberry Growers Association (GBGA) sent a joint letter to their Congressmen asking that provisions to protect the blueberry industry of Florida and Georgia be included in North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations (NAFTA).
“The Florida and Georgia Blueberry industries have experienced growth and stability in the recent past, however the competitive disadvantage with the large volumes of low-priced fruit have resulted in a collapsing market, and continual and rapid decline in pricing. It is impossible for our blueberry growers to compete.”
In 2015, the combined Florida and Georgia blueberry industry was estimated to be worth $186 million which translated to an economic impact of approximately twice that. Among the other challenges the industry is facing this spring, the massive importation of Mexican blueberries is crippling. So far this season, Mexico has imported 43.5 million pounds of fresh blueberries while Florida and Georgia growers have produced about half of that.
“While our industry has experienced growth and stability in the recent past, the competitive disadvantage with large volumes of low-priced fruit have resulted in a collapsing market, and continual and rapid decline in pricing, ” said Brittany Lee, president of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association. “We applaud the Administration’s commitment to renegotiating with Mexico and Canada, and hope that considerations will be made that will help protect our blueberry industry in the Southeast – the viability of our industry is at stake.”
The Florida Blueberry Growers Association (FBGA) represents approximately 500 members, which include growers, farm operation staff, allied professionals, research and education experts, as well as those interested in Florida blueberries.
Source: Florida Blueberry Growers Association May 4, 2018 news release