As Maine blueberry farmers and processors struggle from low prices, trade wars, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maine delegation pushes the USTR to include frozen berries in investigation of the impact of foreign imports on domestic producers
WASHINGTON — In support of the blueberry industry and its workers across the state of Maine, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) joined Representatives Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Jared Golden (ME-02) in writing to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) — Ambassador Robert Lighthizer — to urge additional trade protections for Maine’s wild blueberry producers and frozen blueberry processors.
The delegation called on Lighthizer to ensure Maine wild blueberry growers aren’t being harmed by excessive blueberry imports, while maintaining specific supply chains from Canada that drive blueberry processing in the state. To do so, the lawmakers asked the USTR to request frozen blueberries be added to a Section 201 investigation conducted by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), and — if successful — that Canadian imports of wild blueberries for further processing be excluded from any resulting tariffs.
A Section 201 investigation can be conducted if a U.S. industry is being “seriously injured or threatened with serious injury by increased imports” according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.
“We write in support of the request made by the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (the Commission) to include both cultivated and wild frozen blueberry imports in your Section 201 safeguard investigation request to the United States International Trade Commission (ITC),”the delegation said in their letter.
“Additionally, should you impose tariffs on blueberry imports based on the ITC’s findings, we strongly encourage you to exclude tariffs on Canadian wild blueberry imports in their unprocessed, not-yet-ready for consumption form, which are delivered in bulk to Maine for further processing.”
Last year, the Maine delegation sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) after blueberry producers were impacted by tariffs from China, pushing for targeted relief to blueberry producers.
You can read the letter to Ambassador Lighthizer here.