Homestead farmers say foreign imports are hurting business

Farmers say imports flooding US market are driving prices too low

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Workers in Homestead are harvesting their crops, but they're not packing up as many vegetables as they normally would.

Farmers are blaming foreign imports for flooding the U.S. market and driving down prices so far that it's cheaper to just abandon the crops.

The winter weather has been mild and produced bountiful crops across South Florida, creating more supply than demand, which is not a good sign for farmers in Florida. 

"It is very critical," Sam Accursio, of Sam Accursio Farms, said.

Retail prices have also dipped, making some farmers unable to cover their costs or to even make a profit, so the produce in some farms sits on the fields.

"In December, there was an overabundance where we had to stop harvest completely and let these fields go with millions of pounds of good produce to eat," Accursio said.  

Accursio has been growing in South Florida since the early '80s. He said this is the worst it's ever been during the winter season and he's in fear of losing his farm. 

"My fears are the third generation that I have in place won't have a future in this business that is so important to our nation. In the wintertime, it’s us and California," he said.  

Competition from Mexico is also hurting local farmers. Various crops are now flooding the marketplace in the states and growers are attributing this to the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying that the quantity of crops coming into the U.S. needs to be controlled. They are hoping the new administration can do just that. 

"We have to tweak the free trade agreement. We have to go back to some sort of tariff coming across that border to make the playing field level," Accursio said.

The Trump administration promised that it will renegotiate NAFTA. But until anything changes with that, Accursio said he is micro-managing his farm, working 90 to 100 hours a week, hoping to stay above ground during the winter season.

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