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Aug. 30--BARTOW, Fla.--Citrus industry leaders told U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman on Wednesday they are worried U.S negotiators will treat the industry like a sacrificial lamb in world trade negotiations.
As President Bush seeks increased trade authority, Florida's multibillion-dollar citrus industry doesn't want him to bargain away an orange juice tariff so Brazil will give the U.S. tech industry favorable treatment.
"Too many times agriculture is a trade-off item in
trade agreements," said Dan Richey, chairman of
the Florida Citrus Commission.
Veneman and representatives of Florida's main
agricultural commodities -- citrus, tomatoes, cattle,
nursery ornamentals, vegetables and sugar -- met in Bartow.
The biggest issue on the minds of citrus growers is
trade promotion authority for the president, known
as "fast track." The authority, which Congress will
debate this session, will allow Bush to make trade
deals without lawmaker input. Congress would vote on deals but not alter them.
If granted, Bush has said, he will create the Free
Trade Area of the Americas, a trade zone similar to
the North American Free Trade Agreement that
would eliminate tariffs in 31 countries, including the one on Brazilian frozen-concentrate orange juice.