Since the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, fruit and vegetable producers in the United States have faced a series of challenges, including greater competition from Mexican products, according to the University of Florida.
Factors such as the changing national landscape in terms of production and regulations, as well as the more frequent climate-related events, have contributed to a significant increase in US imports of fruit and vegetable products from Mexico. In fact, according to data from the US Department of Commerce, Mexican strawberry exports to the United States increased by 44% in 2019, with a record-breaking number of shipments.
Although NAFTA eliminated trade barriers and was meant to encourage Mexican imports throughout the year, similarities in the climate and production seasons have led to an increase in imports from Mexico during the marketing window of the winter season products from Florida and other southeastern states.
According to the University of Florida, this increase in Mexican product imports, along with internal changes in the United States, such as labor shortages and the ban on methyl bromide, has significantly affected US producers.
The results of an analysis by this university suggest that further increases in the US import of fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico will negatively affect tomato, strawberry and pepper producers. This, in turn, will lead to a broader economic impact in the state of Florida.
This study only focused on the possible economic impact of Mexican imports on three crops in Florida, but many other crops in the state, such as blueberries and cucumbers, face similar challenges.