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Blueberry growers gain support from ag groups

The blueberry industry is gaining support from ag groups in their quest for fair trade in the U.S.

Last week, members of the American Blueberry Growers Alliance testified before the International Trade Commission on the impact of rising imports during the U.S. growing and harvest seasons.

More than 20 ag and labor groups, including R-CALF USA, are supporting blueberry growers by sending letters on their behalf saying family farmers, suppliers, and local communities are being seriously injured as domestic blueberries compete with imports from countries that have lower food safety, labor, and environmental standards.

Rex Schultz, of Heritage Blueberries in Bangor, Michigan and President of the Michigan Blueberry Advisory Committee, tells Brownfield blueberry imports have increased by 75 percent in the past five years and market prices for American blueberries keep falling.

“Even if we increase production, the only thing we’re doing is hurting ourselves because that’s just going to put more supply in, so we’re looking at ways we can grow our industry,” he says. “But financially, we cannot currently do it.”

The U.S. International Trade Commission is currently investigating import harm to fresh, chilled, and frozen blueberries and the American Blueberry Growers Alliance is asking for swift action using existing trade laws to remedy the situation.

Some ag groups, including Farmers for Free Trade, the U.S. Dairy Export Council, and Corn Refiners Association, are concerned any actions to retaliate against Mexico could undermine the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement.

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