Lower import prices give Polk County farmers sour grapes
Sales of state-grown blueberries and other fresh crops are declining, with Tampa Bay farmers struggling to make a profit, the Lakeland Ledger reports.
Why it matters: Agriculture is the state's second-largest industry, and Florida is one of the top blueberry growers in the nation, according to an annual report released Monday.
The problem: Polk County blueberry farmer Marcio Nunes blames the low labor cost of imports from Mexico and Panama. He can't match those low prices.
- "It’s not the water, there is plenty of rain. It’s not the environment. The problem is the market," Nunes told the Ledger.
State of play: 10-20% in annual sales from Florida seasonal producers were lost because of expanded Mexican imports, according to the report.
- That's an economic impact of about $2 billion to $4 billion, or between 17,870 to 35,741 jobs lost around the state.
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