FLORIDA FARMERS INC.
“ A STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL”

 

CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS

January 1978 A coalition of Florida vegetable farmers is formed to combat the dumping of winter vegetables on U.S markets.

March 1978 Subcommittee hearings on U.S Foreign Agriculture Policy.

May 1978 Senate Committee on Agriculture on the survival of the domestic winter vegetable industry.

June 1978 Economic study commissioned by Florida farmers is completed. Centralized Planning of Mexican Winter Vegetable Exports and Its Impact on the United States Market and the Florida Industry, by Dr. Glenn Meyers.

July 1978 Third hearing by the Subcommittee on Foreign Agriculture Policy.

September 1978 Petition filed charging dumping of fresh winter vegetables from Mexico.

October 1978 Treasury publishes notice of commencement of dumping investigation.

July 1979 Commissioner of Customs Service transmits to General Counsel of Treasury a Memorandum summarizing the investigation, indicating dumping for each five vegetables, but omitting a recommendation Pursuant to Treasury request.

July 1979 At the request of Treasury, the State Department, Agriculture and the Special Trade Representative, the petition is voluntarily withdrawn to facilitate negotiations with Mexico.

August 1979 Disclosure Conference held as agreed. Florida farmers advised by Treasury that had the tentative determination been made in July, 1979, It would have found sales at less than fair value.

October 1979 At the request of Stuart Eizenstat, Assistant to the president for Domestic Affairs and Policy, Florida growers do not refile their petition Before expiration of the 90-day period provided in the withdrawal agreement. October 1979 Presidential advisor Alfred Kahn, chairman of the council on Wage and Price Stability, sends for responding to petition.

October 19, 1979 Petition refilled.

October 30, 1979 Treasury issues tentative determination adverse to Florida growers.

November 1979 Florida growers seek judicial review of agency action in U.S District Court for the District of Columbia.

November 1979 District Court rules that U.S Customs Court is proper forum for review.

January 1980 Florida growers file in U.S Customs Court seeking set aside of the “ tentative negative determination” of Treasury.

March 1980 Department of commerce issues Final Determination of Sales at Not Less Than Fair Value in the Antidumping Investigation Concerning Certain Fresh Winter Vegetables from Mexico. (Jurisdiction was changed by legislation from Treasury to Commerce.)

October 1982 Adverse Federal agency decision appealed to U.S Court of International Trade.

December 1982 U.S. Court of International Trade rules against winter vegetable markets.

1983-1992 Ten years of relative stability in North American Florida.

June 11, 1990 President Bush and President Salinas announce the opening of preliminary discussions toward negotiating a free trade agreement between the two nations.

February 5, 1991 Bush announces that Canada, which already has a free trade agreement with the U.S., will join negotiations with Mexico, aiming for an agreement that would create the world´s largest free trade zone.

May 1991 Congress gives Bush the authority to negotiate the free trade deal under “ fast track” procedures that will require an up-or- down vote on the completed deal without amendments.

August 12, 1992 The U.S., Mexico and Canada reach agreement on a 2,000- page pact (NAFTA) that would eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade over a 15-year period.

Fall 1992 Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Crawford opposes NAFTA due to concerns for Florida growers.

October 4, 1992 Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton announces his support for NAFTA but says if elected he will demand supplemental agreements to provide greater protection for worker´s rights, the environment and sudden import surges.

December 1992 NAFTA signed by Prime Minister Mulroney, President Salinas and President Bush.

August 13, 1993 Negotiators complete work on three supplemental agreements sought by the United States.

Nov. 4, 1993 Clinton sends legislation to Congress to implement NAFTA, conceding that because of strong opposition from labor groups and Perot he is facing an uphill battle to win passage.

Nov. 16, 1993 President Clinton promises to protect U.S. vegetable industry of NAFTA is approved. See appendix B.

Nov. 17, 1993 House approves NAFTA on a 234-200 vote.

Nov. 20, 1993 Senate approves NAFTA on a 61-38 vote.

Dec. 8, 1993 President Clinton signs NAFTA into law.

January 1, 1992 NAFTA implementation begins.

Dec.20, 1994 Mexican peso devalued on international currency markets.

Winter 1995 Mexican growers dump vegetables on U.S. market, large quantities sold at less than cost of production.

March 29, 1995 Florida Tomato Exchange files petition with the U.S International Commission under the Trade Act of 1974, seeking relief from injury by Mexican tomato imports.

April 3, 1995 The U.S. International Trade Commission issues Notice of Institution of the Commission´s investigation.

April 10, 1995 U.S. International Trade Commission conducts a public hearing on the petition. Several growers and growers´ representatives testify.

April 30, 1995 The Florida Tomato Exchange withdraws the petition after learning that the ITC would issue a negative determination.

September 1995 Introduction of national country-of-origin labeling bill in Congress by Rep. Sonny Bono, D-Calif., (H.R. 2602) titled “ The Imported Food Labeling Act of 1995.”

January 1996 Group of South Florida farmers retains J. Luis Rodriguez /Trans-Tech-Ag. Corp. as their trade advisor.

January 1996 Florida Farmers & Suppliers Coalition formed to fight unfair trade practices.

January 1996 Florida´s Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford supports effort with tougher inspections of Mexican produce, strict enforcement of Florida´s country-of-origin labeling law, and seeking of help from Washington.

February 1996 U.S. Senate passes bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Graham D- FLA, to amend Section202 of the Trade Act of 1974, to allow the ITC to recognize the seasonal nature of Florida´s tomato industry and provide relief from import surges.

February 1996 Meetings with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Crawford to discuss strategies for averting destruction of the Florida winter vegetable industry.

February 1996 Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, The Florida Tomato Exchange, Florida Farm Bureau, Florida Farmers & Suppliers Coalition and Farm Credit Service of South Florida unite to form “Grown in the USA Coalition”, a public awareness campaign. February 1996.

February 1996 Letter from Assistant U.S. Trade representative outlining steps being taken to find a solution to the problem. (See Appendix D).

March 7, 1996 Florida industry leaders and advisors meet with Mexican officials and farmers in Dallas, Texas, to discuss the situation.

March 11, 1996 At a Homestead farmer´s rally, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Crawford announces filing by the State of Florida with Florida commodity groups of a 201 petition with the U.S International Trade Commission. This action is without precedent, since never before has a state government as a party sought relief protection for an industry, its employees and the general public.

Chronology of 201 and Antidumping Investigation.

March 11, 1996 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, et. al. file petition with USITC under Section 202 of the Trade Act of 1974 alleging that increased imports of Tomatoes and Bell Peppers are causing injury to the domestic industries producing the subject products.

March 11, 1996 USITC Institutes Investigation Number TA-201-66, Fresh Tomatoes and Bell Peppers under Section 202 of the Trade Act of 1974, based upon petition filed by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, et. al.

March 29, 1996 Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Tomato Exchange, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, et. al. file Antidumping Petition on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico alleging that imports of tomatoes from Mexico are being sold in the United States at less than fair value.

April 4, 1996 USITC institutes antidumping investigation 731-TA-747, Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico

April 18, 1996 U.S. Department of Commerce institutes antidumping investigation A-201-820, Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico

May 16, 1996 USITC issues affirmative determination in 731-TA-747 (preliminary) that there is reasonable indication that the industry in the United States is likely materially injured by reason of imports of Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico.

July 2, 1996 USITC issues negative injury determination in Inv. No. TA-201-66, Fresh Tomatoes and Bell Peppers.

October 7, 1996 Department of Commerce postpones preliminary determination in A-201-820, Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico, until no later than October 28, 1996.

October 10, 1996 Department of Commerce and Mexican tomato growers initialed a proposed agreement suspending the antidumping investigation. The Department sought comments from interested parties regarding the proposed agreement by no later than October 25, 1996.

October 28, 1996 Department of Commerce issues preliminary determination that tomatoes from Mexico are being sold in the United States at less than fair value at margins ranging from 4.16 to 188.45 percent.

October 28, 1996 U.S. Department of Commerce and Mexican tomato growers sign Agreement Suspending the Antidumping investigation. A minimum floor price of 0.2068 per pound or $5.17 per 25 pound carton is established.

November 1, 1996 Agreement Suspending Antidumping investigation on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico enters into force.

May 7, 1997 Department of Commerce issues clarification to Suspension Agreement regarding adjustments to price due to changes in condition defects after shipment.

August 6, 1998 U.S. Department of Commerce issues amendment to Suspension Agreement establishing two reference prices for the following periods: $0.2108 per pound for tomatoes entered October 23 through June 30 in any year, and $0.172 per pound for tomatoes entered July 1 through October 22 in any year.

September 22, 1999 Department of Commerce issues letter to all interested parties clarifying the procedures for signatories to take that would provide evidence to PACA that the sales contracts were made subject to the terms of the Agreement.