Dr. Ruiz Fights to Protect Coachella Valley Agriculture

March 3, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) called on Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to work to protect grape growers in the Coachella Valley who are losing business as a result of imports from Mexico. The letter asks the Departments to brief Dr. Ruiz on their efforts to ensure that American growers are competing on a level playing field against unfair foreign competition.

“Grape growers in my district are struggling to obtain a level playing field,” Dr. Ruiz wrote in the letter. “California grape growers have been affected by the Administration’s trade war. [We must] ensure that growers in my district have the tools available to them to protect against unfair foreign competition.”

“The Coachella Valley has seen a reduction of this important crop by 70% in the last 20 years and is close to being nonexistent because of foreign producers selling below their production costs,” said local grower Blaine Carian of Desert Fresh.

You can read a full text of the letter here. 

Background

California is home to 99% of the table grapes grown in the United States, and the Coachella Valley is responsible for roughly $100 million worth of that production.

Mexican imports increased from 9.5 million boxes in 2017 to an estimated 22 million boxes in 2019. These imports are putting American growers at a distinct disadvantage.

As a result of the ongoing trade war, tariffs on grape exports to countries like China have increased exponentially – up to 53%. These tariffs have resulted in a 40% decline in exports from the previous year.