The big squeeze : ...Globalization catches up with Florida's citrus belt...
Wages, taxes and environmental and agricultural regulations make U.S. production more costly. Florida workers earn $60 a day; Brazilian workers earn $60 a week...
For true believers in free trade, it's a simple matter of letting the cheapest supply have the market. But for many in the Clewiston area, the citrus issue doesn't simply revolve around economics. It also brings into question food safety and security, commercial land development and the rural way of life...
"There is a fundamental decision we have to make: whether we will have food grown in the United States or in other countries," Couse said. "I can't believe our leaders can't see that at some point in this, someone can hold us hostage over food depending on how far we go with free trade."...
At a recent trade ministers' meeting in Quito, Ecuador's Foreign Minister Heinz Moeller drew a resounding round of applause when he demanded access. "Developed countries should open their agricultural markets to underdeveloped countries," Moeller said. "Give us the opportunity now to grow richer."...
But Mark Ritchie, president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis, said the public and policymakers must think before eliminating tariffs that keep industries in business...
"Any proposal to vastly increase U.S. imports in anything has to be analyzed in its impact on the environment, trade deficit, family income and farm families," Ritchie said.
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