Ruiz Introduces Bipartisan American Seasonal and Perishable Crop Support Act
Washington, D.C. – This week, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA) and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) introduced H.R. 4580, the American Seasonal and Perishable Crop Support Act, which would help level the playing field for Coachella Valley growers who compete against below-market foreign imports. The legislation was drafted in concert with local growers who have seen drastic drops in production as foreign imports have driven prices below a sustainable level.
“Our local agriculture industry and domestic food supply chain continue to be threatened by subsidized imports that make it difficult for American farmers to compete,” said Dr. Ruiz. “My bipartisan bill, the American Seasonal and Perishable Crop Support Act, will help level the playing field for our local growers and empower them to fight back against unfair foreign competition. Agriculture is a major industry for our local economy and a source of work for many families. Produce grown in the Coachella Valley helps feed Americans in every state, and I will continue fighting to ensure that Coachella Valley grown products are available in supermarkets across the country.”
“For years, Georgia’s producers have struggled to compete with unfair trade practices, including our specialty crop producers who are seeing more and more foreign-subsidized produce dumped into U.S. markets below the cost of production,” said Congressman Scott. “The impact of these unfair trade practices has only been compounded by labor shortages and supply chain issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Food security is national security, and we must ensure we continue to support our American farmers and create a level playing field. That’s why I’m proud to join Congressman Ruiz in introducing the American Seasonal and Perishable Crop Support Act, and I will continue fighting for our U.S. growers and our domestic food supply chain.”
“The American Seasonal and Perishable Crop Support Act, introduced by Congressman Ruiz, would be a lifesaver for Coachella fruit and vegetable growers,” said George Tudor of the Desert Grape Growers League. “Our industry has been gripped by the fear of going bankrupt because of the imported crops being sold below the U.S. cost of production. This legislation will help level the playing field and support American grown table grapes and other fruits and vegetables.”
H.R. 4580 would amend the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act to establish a Seasonal and Perishable Crop Loss Program at the United States Department of Agriculture. This program would help producers make up the difference between their production costs and the market costs that have been driven down by unfairly subsidized foreign products. Producers electing to participate in the crop loss program would need to show that the reduced market price is due to imports of their same crop from foreign competitors.
In 1989, the Coachella Valley produced over 20,000 acres of table grapes. Since that peak, the local table grape industry has lost nearly 13,000 acres of production as foreign, below-market imports have taken a greater portion of the market.
- From 1993 to 2019, imports of table grapes from Mexico increased from 5 million boxes to 20 million boxes.
- From 2010 to 2019, imports of table grapes from Peru increased from 2 million boxes to 17 million boxes.
Local grape growers are unable to utilize anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws because those laws require a majority of the domestic industry to have faced injury. Seasonal and perishable growers often only represent a subset of the domestic market, so they are unable to seek redress for unfair trade.
During the USMCA negotiations, Dr. Ruiz advocated to then USTR Robert Lighthizer to include a provision allowing for seasonal and perishable trade remedies. The Trump Administration was unable to secure such a provision with Mexico and Canada.
Table grapes are far from the only products affected by below-market priced imports. For example, the California asparagus industry has also been decimated by these unfair imports. From 2000 to 2020, California asparagus growers saw their acreage reduced from 36,000 acres down to 6,000 acres as Mexican asparagus products were imported below the costs of American production.
The legislation is endorsed by the Desert Grape Growers League.