Blueberry Growers Divided At Recent Trade Commission Hearing

Blueberry growers disagreed at the most recent hearing by the US International Trade Commission (ITC). The problem centers on the impact that imports are having on US industry. Two groups representing blueberry industry stakeholders gave testimony as to why prices have dropped. The American Blueberry Growers Alliance (ABGA) notes that increased imports from Latin America are driving prices down for US growers.

“Due to booming domestic demand, we should enjoy a market where there is room for domestic and foreign producers to benefit,” ABGA Chairman of the Board Jerome Crosby said in a press release. “However, foreign government policies directed at the US market and large corporate import interests have combined to bring large volumes of blueberries to our market, increasingly during periods that in the past provided growers with the greatest part of their income and often all of their earnings for the year.”

Several members of Congress also testified before the ITC in support of ABGA's claim that imports are the cause of the low prices. ITC is conducting an investigation on blueberries under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. Over the past five years, blueberry imports have increased by 75 percent. The group has pointed out that imports from Mexico specifically have increased by 2,111 percent in the last 10 years. Blueberry growers appear to be divided on how imports have impacted prices for domestic growers.

The recently formed Blueberry Coalition for Progress and Health offered an alternative point of view during the hearing. The group notes that increased supply from Washington and Oregon has the biggest impact on prices. Before the January 12 hearing, the coalition expressed concern about the investigation and how it will affect the Agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada. Several industry groups and legislators have sent letters to trade officials opposing the ITC investigation.

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