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Our view: Tariff on goods from Mexico would hurt avocado growers

By and   /   Friday, February 3rd, 2017  /   Comments Off on Our view: Tariff on goods from Mexico would hurt avocado growers

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The avocado was relegated to the ranks of niche agricultural products until some clever growers from Ventura County figured out how to grow, harvest and ship them into U.S. markets year round.

By outsourcing operations to Mexico and Latin America, Calavo, Mission Produce and others extended the four-month growing season in California to 12 months a year.

Add a clever Super Bowl guacamole promotion or two, some marketing to Japan and Asia, and the once-niche product was transformed into a consumer staple with a revenue stream that runs into the billions.

Now it’s certainly true that in peak California growing months, the region’s avocado growers face competition from Mexico that can put downward pressure on prices. But we’d argue vehemently that the solution to cheap avocado imports is not an import surcharge of 20 percent or more on imported products.

The fact is that open borders have created the worldwide phenomenon that avocados are today. Imposing import fees is only going to interfere with supply and not address the fundamental problems facing U.S. growers.

Those problems are lack of a reliable labor supply, expensive delays in getting facilities permitted in California and other rules that balance the playing field against the U.S. grower.

Opening NAFTA in ways to gain greater protection for Mexican workers and more responsible growing practices might be one way forward. So would immigration reforms that provide a reliable way for farmers to import laborers from Mexico.

So far, California’s moves to raise agricultural wages and President Donald Trump’s threats of new tariffs are both disappointing.

That’s no way to reward the pioneering efforts of farmers who created a global industry through hard work and grit.

HANSEN GOOD CHOICE FOR VENTURA COUNTY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

The Ventura County Community Foundation has taken another step toward recovery with the appointment of banking veteran Scott Hansen as its new chairman.

Hansen is the Wells Fargo regional managing director of wealth management for the Santa Barbara and Westlake Village markets. He’s been involved in a number of philanthropic efforts in the region and would appear to be a worthy successor to Gary Erikson, who stepped down after three years.

With $87 million in assets, VCCF is the flagship community giving platform in Ventura County. It struggled through a round of layoffs and underwent a fiduciary review of its donor-restricted funds.

Over the past year, VCCF distributed $4 million in grants and support, including scholarships and aid to several hundred local organizations. The Business Times will be partnering with VCCF to launch our own scholarship program later this year during our Latino Business Awards program.

We can’t think of a better partner than VCCF and we’re pleased that Hansen has signed on as board chair.

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