The blueberry industry was dealt a blow by the International Trade Commission (ITC) on Thursday. After a months-long investigation, the ITC has ruled that imported fresh, chilled or frozen blueberries doesn’t cause harm or threaten domestic producers.
The investigation began September 29, 2020 at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative. The decision was made unanimously.
“Seasonal fruit and vegetable farmers face unfair competition from foreign growers and [Thursday]’s decision demonstrates that much work still needs to be done to address international trade imbalances,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Increases in lower-priced fresh, chilled and frozen blueberries during seasonal harvest times in the U.S. leads to lower prices for domestic growers. Since domestic farmers are price-takers, not price-makers, they need time to adjust their operations to the increased import levels.”
The American Blueberry Growers Alliance (ABGA) also expressed their disappointment with the ruling.
“We disagree with the outcome of the Commissioner’s investigation,” ABGA issued in a statement. “Meanwhile, our domestic growers will face another year of economic uncertainty as they grow and harvest their 2021 blueberry crop. No doubt, imports will now accelerate to overwhelm our domestic market this year. This will cause even greater hardship on family-owned farm operations, as well as on providers of packing and freezing services, and damage to local communities and tax bases.”
As a result of Thursday’s decision, the investigation will end and the ITC will not recommend a remedy to President Biden.