Raspberry Import Crisis

  • September 30, 2017

Choose Washington grown frozen and processed raspberries

It’s not easy given weaknesses in our product labeling laws. But the Washington Red Raspberry Commission is working to help by providing information on the frozen and processed products that use only Washington grown red raspberries. We will continue to provide information on these products as more food manufacturers, packagers and retailers choose to support locally and domestic grown raspberries. For consumer information on the considerable differences between domestic and foreign berries, see our Consumer Information page.

 

 

 

Unequal and unfair foreign trade threatens WA family berry farmers’ survival

 

 

​Washington berry farmers are leaders in high quality raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.

Whatcom County produces about 70% of the nation’s frozen and processed raspberry crop.

But, this remarkable local product is under severe pressure from foreign competition. Major packagers, wholesalers and retailers buy berries at the lowest price. More and more berries are coming from Serbia, Mexico, Chile and even China.

Serbian farmworkers are paid, we are told, as little as $5 per day. Mexican berry pickers are paid about $11 per day.

The average farmworker this season in Washington farms were paid $20 to $25 per hour. Incentive pay based on production boosts the average well above the state minimum wage, and many workers are able to make well over $200 a day, at least 20 times higher pay than what workers for foreign competitors make.

​In addition to labor costs many times higher than their foreign competitors, Washington farmers have very high costs related to environmental compliance and food safety regulations. These are important and valuable as they help ensure the environment is protected and ensure that our domestic farm production is the safest anywhere. However, these are added burdens that make it ever harder for local farmers to compete against global competitors without the same requirements.

​Current trade agreements on fruit don’t adequately account for the vast difference in labor costs, environmental standards, food safety inspections and even organic determination.

 

Just before this year’s harvest began, the trade pressures came to a head when a major buyer pulled out of the market, as explained in this Lynden Tribune article from June 29th.

Last fall, KING5 TV interviewed Marty Maberry, a Whatcom County berry farmer, who succinctly explained the plight of local producers and what this may mean for the future.

Spokane Review on Oct. 16 provided this excellent overview of the state’s blueberry farms. It also included problems with unfair foreign competition and the issues of pest control in Wester

n Washington compared to other growing areas.

Capital Press on Oct. 23 covered the efforts of the Washington Red Raspberry Commission to push back against unfair foreign imports.

Also, the Protect Farmworkers Now project has been highlighting how unfair foreign trade will hurt farm workers.​

Consumer Alert!

There is a BIG difference between Washington grown and foreign grown raspberries — even when you buy them frozen or in jams, yogurt, ice cream, cookies and other products.

Download the information sheet below and send to everyone you know who cares about their food and how it is grown.

Click here to see the latest imported food recalls and important information on food safety and other issues affecting imported fruit.

What farmers are asking federal and state representatives to help protect Washington’s family berry farms

​Washington Red Raspberry Commission and Save Family Farming are reaching out to elected representatives to help save family raspberry farmers:

Also, Save Family Farming is appealing to Congressional Representatives to help save farm worker jobs:

​​Watch this video of 4th-generation Whatcom County family farmer Landon Van Dyk explain how market conditions created by unfair trade may cause him to lose the farm his great-grandfather homesteaded in 1906:

Follow Save Family Farming, Protect Farmworkers Now, and Whatcom Family Farmers on social media to stay up to date on the latest in this effort to save family berry farming in WA:

facebook.com/savefamilyfarming

twitter.com/savefarming

instagram.com/savefamilyfarming

facebook.com/protectfarmworker

facebook.com/whatcomfamilyfarmers