Nationally, Florida ranked second in farm cash receipt from all crops and second, based on value, in vegetable production (USDA, 2003). It also ranked fourteenth out of all the states with respect to agricultural exports with its top exports, fruits and vegetables, falling within the category of specialty crops. According to the USDA (2003), Florida's agricultural exports help to boost farm prices and income and supported approximately 17,000 jobs both on and off farm in 2001, and as such are important to Florida's agricultural and statewide economy. From a Florida farm cash receipts perspective, increased imports could undermine revenue earnings from specialty crop production, especially if there is not a comparable growth in the exports of these crops. This report covered the period 1991 to 2002 and examined trade flows for selected specialty crops deemed important to Florida's agriculture. Overall, the US had a relatively high import level of the selected specialty crops. This was apparent from the widening trade gaps and the declining surpluses experienced by all commodities, with the exception of oranges and strawberries. CANMEX was the dominant supplier of vegetables, and growing imports from this group drove the growing vegetable trade deficit. With respect to fruits, CANMEX was also a dominant supplier and affected trade balances however, many of the declining fruit trade balances were due to declining exports to markets such as Asia and the Europe. CANMEX played a major role in the trade of foliage and floriculture but did not dominate the trade. Over the period 1991 to 2002 there were changes in the trade flows of the selected vegetables, fruits and foliage and floriculture. Two noticeable trends were the concentration of trade with CANMEX, especially with respect to vegetable exports, and declining exports to Asia and Europe. Also noticeable was declining trade balances experienced by the majority of the commodities in this study. Under free trade agreements, it becomes difficult to prevent the inflow of goods. Preparing for a possible onslaught of imports, brought on by the implementation of regional free trade agreements in the western hemisphere, requires the seeking out new markets and committing of resources towards developing existing.


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