Sep 1, 2021 - News
Lower import prices give Polk County farmers sour grapes
These are blueberries. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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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