By John Walt Boatright and Jaime Jerrels
Florida Farm Bureau
Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
The Florida Farm Bureau has been working with an industry coalition to pursue a trade remedy for our ongoing seasonal/perishable challenges, which have plagued the state since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of the 1990s.
In January 2020, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) committed to exploring a plan of action this year, including collecting input from stakeholders through public comment and field hearings. This public comment period has been open since mid-March, and last week, USTR announced the closure of the comment period for Aug. 3. This offers a final two weeks for affected producers and organizations to file their comments.
It is imperative to submit comments on this important, longstanding priority for Florida agriculture, especially if you have a personal story to share. Here are some options:
• We have created an FBAct Alert to better facilitate comments directly to USTR. Go online to floridafarmbureau.org/legislative-action-center/ to find the alert at the FFBF Legislative Action Center. You can easily add a few sentences about your farm and how these unfair trade practices have affected your ability to stay in business. The last component is adding your name and address, and pressing SEND.
• Three different letter templates are also attached, which go into slightly more detail and offer more space to share your story. Once you personalize your letter, go to regulations.gov/docket?D=USTR-2020-0010 to find the online portal to submit your comments in the Federal Register.
• If you would like some assistance in writing, editing or submitting your comments, do not hesitate to contact us at Florida Farm Bureau. We will be glad to assist you in this critical effort.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.
John Walt Boatright is director of national affairs for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. Jaime Jerrels is director of agricultural policy. Emails: email@example.com; Jaime.Jerrels@ffbf.org.