U.S. Rep. Austin Scott Says Wage Disparities Across the Border Make It Hard for American Farmers to Compete

 

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA-08), who serves on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, shared his worries about cheap produce imports, the impact of cheaper labor costs in Mexico, and how this affects Georgia farmers.

Committee members held a hearing entitled, “21st Century Food Systems: Controlled Environment Agriculture’s Role in Protecting Domestic Food Supply Chains and Infrastructure.”

“During my five minutes of questions, I pressed the Executive Vice Chairman of Mastronardi Produce, Kevin Safrance, on the issue of cheap produce imports and the impact of cheaper labor costs in Mexico,” Scott said in an emailed newsletter to his constituents Sunday.

“In response to a question on what U.S.-based workers versus Mexico-based workers are paid, Mr. Safrance noted that international produce companies generally pay workers in Mexico $14 to $15 a day while in the United States they typically pay workers between $13 to $15 an hour, with some people reaching $20 an hour. These wage disparities play a large role in international produce growers being able to harvest and then dump cheap fruits and vegetables into U.S. markets below the cost of production in the United States, making it difficult for American farmers to compete.”

Scott said he has “long pressed for creating a more level playing field for our Georgia farmers.”

“I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure our American growers can compete with foreign imports and our grocery stores are encouraged to stock more American-grown products,” the congressman said.

Scott, last month, said grocery products are rising in price due to the increased cost of inputs farmers are facing.

“These [inputs] can include the seeds and chemicals used to grow and protect crops in the field, as well as the cost of boxes and packaging materials to get products from the farm to the store. The costs of fuel and transportation also play a role,” Scott said.

“Higher fuel prices mean higher food prices. There is a misconception that farmers are making record profits as the cost of farm products rise, but farm revenues remain at about $0.10/per $1 for each product – the same as before the pandemic.”

Scott also said that, unfortunately, Americans aren’t seeing the impact of inflation at just the grocery store.

“The costs of gasoline, clothing, and health care are also stretching the budgets of American families,” Scott said.

“In fact, inflation is growing faster than paychecks are, and we will face more severe consequences if Joe Biden and the Democrats continue to pay people not to work.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

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