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Huizenga: Trade Announcement Will Help Michigan Blueberry Growers, Specialty Crop Producers

Washington, September 2, 2020

Today, Congressman Bill Huizenga made the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) outlining their plan to address the threat posed by increased foreign imports to American producers of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables. For West Michigan, this specifically addresses blueberry growers while opening the door for further action for specialty crop growers, including asparagus and cherries. 

“This is a major development for Michigan blueberry growers,” said Congressman Bill Huizenga.  “By requesting the International Trade Commission open an investigation, the Administration is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring that Michigan family farms are not being undercut by unsavory trade practices from foreign countries. While more work is necessary to level the playing field for all specialty crop growers, this announcement is a very positive step forward.”

Two weeks ago, Congressman Huizenga toured Crossroads Blueberry Farms with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. During the visit they discussed challenges facing local growers with a special focus on the challenges specialty crops growers are facing from foreign imports. On July 27th, Congressman Huizenga toured Reenders Blueberry Farm to check on the status of this year’s harvest, discuss the importance of having fair trade, and support local farmers. Additionally, Congressman Huizenga has also advocated directly to Ambassador Lighthizer in support of action to be taken to level the playing field for asparagus and cherry growers.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • The USTR will request the International Trade Commission to initiate a Section 201 global safeguard investigation into the extent to which increased imports of blueberries have caused serious injury to domestic blueberry growers.
  • The USTR will pursue senior-level government-to-government discussions with Mexico over the next 90 days to address U.S. industry concerns regarding U.S. imports of seasonal and perishable products.
  • The Department of Commerce will establish a formal channel for stakeholders to provide information related to unfair subsidies for foreign producers and exporters of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables, including those in Mexico – building on ongoing efforts to partner with U.S. industry to identify such subsidies.
  • The USTR, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture will establish an interagency working group to monitor seasonal and perishable fruit and vegetable products, coordinate as appropriate regarding future investigations and trade actions, and provide technical assistance to Members of Congress in developing legislation on this issue.
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