My position on NAFTA

Trade deals such as NAFTA have hurt Florida’s farmers and ranchers.

Florida’s agriculture community began feeling the pain the moment NAFTA was implemented in the 1990s. The deal has sacrificed “minor crop” states for the benefit of others. Florida crop-growers such as those in the tomato industry have been absolutely decimated as a result. Our farmers don’t want more deals that leave them behind, and we are encouraged by President Trump’s leadership on this issue. Future negotiations must include fair treatment for minor crop states that rely on the production of fruits and vegetables.

We have suffered because Florida’s market has been flooded with cheap and often inferior produce. This hurts our homegrown producers’ ability to effectively market products at a reasonable price. Ultimately, this negatively affects Florida’s economy through the weakening of our iconic industries. As a general rule, I support free markets and am opposed to tariffs. However, Florida’s production agriculturalists must have the opportunity to compete on a fair playing field. Countries using unfair trade practices must be punished immediately and effectively.

Although I don’t support NAFTA as-is and would endorse a withdrawal from the deal if better terms aren’t negotiated, I’m hopeful The White House will find a middle ground that addresses our concerns without needing to reach that final tipping point. I’m concerned that unintended consequences from unilateral trade actions could result in progress being left on the table. We recently saw increased tariffs on certain Chinese products lead to a threat against U.S. soybeans, and I don’t want our farmers to end up in the middle of a political tit-for-tat on the international stage.

We must do all we can to make Florida’s agriculture industry as competitive as possible in the global marketplace. Trade deals provide a framework for international commerce, but they don’t exist in a vacuum. We must also streamline regulation, invest in research and marketing, and support the growth of logistics opportunities for our products by prioritizing infrastructure and ports modernization. By doing all of these things, Florida’s second-biggest economic driver can continue to feed our state, country and world.