This Q&A series is the first of six installments featuring Florida Grower’s 2012 Citrus Achievement Award winner Vic Story addressing important issues of the day. This month, the president of Lake Wales-based The Story Companies discusses the recent ruling on the antidumping order with Brazil.
Q: What is the history of our antidumping order with Brazil?
A: Five years ago, Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) and some growers and processors filed a complaint against certain Brazilian processors and importers that we felt were dumping orange juice unfairly into the U.S. market. After presenting our case to the International Trade Commission (ITC), we prevailed and had a dumping order put into place. Even during the time the order was in place, there was still product brought in at below costs of production from Brazil. So, when the order expired, we had to re-file to keep it in place. This past spring, we went back to Washington, D.C., and testified before the ITC and made our case to keep the antidumping order in place. We did not prevail this time. We believe there were a number of reasons why we didn’t win. First of all, grower returns at that time we testified were at near all-time highs. One of the arguments the Brazilians made was that growers were not being harmed — just look at the prices. But, since that time, we can see what happened in the futures dropping 40% of its value. The cash market dropped from roughly around $2.50 per pound to where we finished the season around $1.75 per pound. Some of the things we said would happen in our testimony did happen. I believe part of the drop-off in the futures was part of the lifting of the antidumping order.
Q: What are the next steps from FCM?
A: It was a disappointment that we didn’t prevail on the antidumping order, probably my biggest serving as president of FCM. However, we looked at our options and had to make a pre-filing to appeal within a timely period. So we did that. But since then, we have looked at all options again and have decided not to appeal. The appeal process can take up to five years, so we believe we would have a better case if we filed a new complaint.
Next spring, we will monitor juice prices coming into the U.S. If we were to file a new complaint, we can include more processors than we had in the original order and account for some consolidation in the Brazilian citrus industry. It is something we will be keeping a close eye on, and we certainly will not forget about it. In the meantime, the tariff itself is still in place and we don’t have any reason to believe it will be challenged.