Last week, members of the Florida congressional delegation, led by U.S. Reps. Darren Soto, D-Fla., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., wrote a letter to Acting U.S. Trade Representative, Maria Pagan, expressing concerns over retaliatory tariffs placed by the European Union (EU) on U.S. agricultural products, particularly Florida grapefruits.
Last year, the European Union (EU) imposed approximately $4 billion in tariffs on U.S. grapefruit and other agricultural products. The tariffs, authorized by the World Trade Organization, are punishment for U.S. subsidies for the Boeing Company.
The tariff (on grapefruit) prior to the recent change amounted to approximately 45 cents per carton. The new rate amounts to approximately $6 plus or minus per carton.
In the past, forty percent of Florida’s fresh grapefruit production was intended for EU markets.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida growers have already been struggling to maintain their livelihoods. If immediate action is not taken and the United States loses the fresh grapefruit market in the EU, they could face even harsher consequences.
“These tariffs have had a devastating impact on citrus, particularly Florida grapefruit, worsening the already difficult market conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote the members. “Because fresh citrus and citrus juices are subject to the retaliatory tariff, fresh Florida grapefruit is among the most adversely impacted.”
“As delegation members of the largest citrus-producing state in the country, we urge your full and fair consideration on this most important matter. The loss of this industry would be devastating to Florida growers and our nation,” continued the members.