New York Farm Bureau President Testifies Before USTR on Unfair Canadian Trade Practices
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher presented testimony today during a virtual hearing to explain how unfair Canadian price supports are making it difficult for New York fruit and vegetable farms to compete in wholesale markets.
Appearing before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) hearing on seasonal and perishable produce, Fisher testified that unfair subsidization of Canadian produce is occurring which makes it profitable for Canadian farmers to ship and sell products in the U.S. This is allowing Canadian farms to offer their products at a dramatically lower rate, thereby making U.S. products uncompetitive.
He gave examples from New York State of producers who sell in the Hunts Point Produce Market which services New York City and its surrounding areas. Canadian farms also compete there, offering to sell their produce at a much lower rate, severely undercutting what New York growers need to make a profit. For example, onion growers in Orange County are only being offered around $7.00 for a 50-pound bag of medium yellow onions. If growers in central and western New York State sell to Orange County re-packers, they typically receive even less, about $6.00, due to transportation costs. At a minimum, New York onion farmers need to receive $10.00-$12.00 per 50 pounds for yellow onions to break even.
Similarly, on Long Island, farmers who sell boxes of lettuce and other greens are faced with a market flooded with cheap greens from Canada. Last summer, one producer reported Canadian Romaine lettuce being sold for $7.00 FOB (Freight on Buyer). The average price that Long Island farmers expect to receive for that same Romaine lettuce is $15.00 per box which means that producers are receiving 50-percent of their normal pay. Fisher said, simply put, New York farmers cannot afford to sell at the prices that Canadian producers are able to sell and expect to keep farming.
“While our members believe in open and competitive markets, artificial price reductions do not allow for these conditions to exist. There is a pattern of Canadian produce entering the U.S. market, followed by New York produce prices plummeting, which has happened far too often and at price levels that raises questions as to how these Canadian farmers continue to stay in business. Farmers in the United States cannot continue to sell at prices akin to what was received 30 years ago and continue to stay in business,” said Fisher during his testimony.
In turn, New York Farm Bureau is urging the USTR, along with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce to work aggressively to swiftly address trade disputes. This includes the following:
- · Support changes to antidumping and countervailing duty laws that would provide a process for regional/seasonal industries to petition for antidumping and countervailing duties.
- · A streamlined petition process for growers.
- · Allow multiple commodities to be grouped into one petition, allowing impacted producers to work together when they are facing detrimental price impacts.
- · The implementation of a timely trade dispute resolution process that would consider the perishability, seasonality, and regional production of products.
“New York’s and the East Coast’s agricultural industry depends upon and supports free trade but also firmly believes in fair trade. Trade agreements must be honored so as to protect domestic farmers from unfair trading practices and dumping,” said Fisher.
New York Farm Bureau is the State’s largest agricultural lobbying/trade organization. Its members and the public know the organization as “The Voice of New York Agriculture.” New York Farm Bureau is dedicated to solving the economic and public policy issues challenging the agricultural community. www.nyfb.org