Taylor Farms, Mission Produce, Wonderful Citrus and More Unite to Form Produce Coalition for NAFTA, Soren Bjorn and Paul Mastronardi Discuss

Fri. September 1st, 2017 - by Jordan Okumura

UNITED STATES, CANADA, and MEXICO – Some of the U.S. and Canada’s largest produce companies have joined together to support efforts to modernize NAFTA and maintain duty-free access for produce within NAFTA countries.

Paul Mastronardi, President, Mastronardi Produce“NAFTA has been overwhelmingly successful for the fresh produce industry, including tomato companies,” said Paul Mastronardi, President, Mastronardi Produce. “By participating in the Produce Coalition for NAFTA, we will come together with other industry leaders to ensure our voice is heard when it comes to modernizing NAFTA.”

The Produce Coalition for NAFTA consists of the following companies: 

  • Driscoll’s® 
  • Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc
  • Growers Express
  • JV Smith Companies
  • Mission Produce, Inc.
  • NatureSweet
  • Red Sun Farms
  • Star Produce
  • Sunset® Mastronardi Produce®
  • Taylor Farms
  • Wonderful Citrus

According to a press release, the Produce Coalition for NAFTA believes important issues like border procedures, harmonization of regulations, and the protection of intellectual property offer opportunities for real improvements in free trade. The group also expressed concerns that NAFTA negotiations could be used to impose new trade barriers instead of eliminating them.

On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, Coalition members, including the CEOs of six companies, signed a letter to members of Congress, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, expressing support for modernizing NAFTA.

“Coalition members believe issues like border procedures, harmonization of regulations and the protection of intellectual property offer opportunities for real improvements in free trade,” the letter noted. “As well, Coalition members are concerned that the NAFTA negotiations could be used to impose new trade barriers instead of eliminating them. Proposals to make it easier to impose anti-dumping duties on produce, for example, threaten the success of the cross-border fruit and vegetable trade and could result in increased tariffs that negatively impact growers in all three countries as well as U.S. consumers.”

The new organization noted that, since its inception in 1994, NAFTA has eliminated tariffs and resulted in more year-round availability for the U.S. consumer. Under NAFTA, U.S. per capital consumption of fresh vegetables reaching 145.1 pounds per year, a 14 percent increase from the 126.8 pounds per year in 1993 before NAFTA was enacted. 

Steve Barnard, President and CEO, Mission Produce Inc.“U.S. consumption of avocados has increased by nearly five times since the U.S. border opened to Mexican imports,” noted Steve Barnard, President and CEO, Mission Produce, in a press release. “All growers have benefited from securing long-term partnerships with major foodservice operators who now have enough supply to put avocados on the menu. Regardless of growing regions, it’s a win/win for everyone who has contributed to increasing demand driven by a consistent twelve-month supply.”

Considerable increases in both produce import and U.S. domestic production value followed the legislation as well.

Kevin Murphy, CEO, Driscoll's“Since 1993 to 2016, the U.S. fresh strawberry production has increased more than 80 percent and provides almost 90 percent of the U.S. supply” noted Kevin Murphy, CEO, Driscoll’s. “The 52 week supply of high quality strawberries has been at the heart of the growth and allowed for stability and consistency of the category.”

The Coalition also noted the benefits of the trade in meeting and encouraging year-round market demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, explaining that the total value of agricultural trade among all three NAFTA countries reached about $82.0 billion in 2013, compared with $16.7 billion in the year prior to NAFTA’s implementation.

Industry leaders expressed their support for NAFTA modernization and for continued trade cooperation and noted that they hoped for the continued success of the agreement and continued involvement in efforts to reshape trade policies.

Soren Bjorn, President, Driscoll’s of the Americas“With our participation in the Produce Coalition for NAFTA, we are joining many other leading produce companies in magnifying our voice as the three governments discuss changes to the free trade agreement,” Soren Bjorn, President, Driscoll’s of the Americas. “We all support modernization of NAFTA while we are also clear that NAFTA to date has been an overwhelming success for the fresh produce industry.”

For more on important developments in NAFTA negotiation and news in the produce industry, stay tuned to AndNowUKnow.

Driscoll's Fall Creek Farm & Nursery Growers Express JV Smith Companies Mission Produce NatureSweet Tomatoes Red Sun Farms Star Produce SUNSET® Taylor Farms Wonderful Citrus