Mike Stuart

Citation
Mike Stuart

Material Information

Title:
Mike Stuart
Series Title:
Florida citrus oral history project
Creator:
Stuart, Mike, 1953-
Mansfield, Bill
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
University of South Florida -- Globalization Research Center
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 sound file (65 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Citrus fruit industry -- Florida ( lcsh )
Tariff on oranges ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history. ( local )
Online audio. ( local )
interview ( marcgt )
Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )

Notes

Summary:
The interview focuses on Stuart as president and CEO for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association. Discussion includes NAFTA and its impact on fruit and vegetable growers in Florida and California, the affect of lobbying and the future of the citrus industry in Florida.
Venue:
Interview conducted May 10, 2005, in Maitland, Fla.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by William Mansfield.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
024871449 ( ALEPH )
64030468 ( OCLC )
C56-00019 ( USFLDC DOI )
c56.19 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information

Format:
Audio

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This item has the following downloads:


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117 [Tape 1, Side A.]
2215 Bill Mansfield: I always but a label on the disk by saying, This is Bill Mansfield from the University of South Florida's Globalization Research Center talking to Mr. Mike Stuart here in-is this Orlando or Maitland?
321 Mike Stuart: Maitland
4171 Mansfield: Okay, Florida on May 10, 2005. And Mr. Stuart, we always get people to start out by stating their name and telling when they were born and where they were born.
593 Stuart: Okay, my name is Mike Stuart. I was born in Pasadena, California on October 14, 1953.
656 Mansfield: Okay. And I reckon you grew up in California?
7218 Stuart: I did. I spent the first thirty-eight years of my life in southern California. Born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles. And, again, spent the first thirty-eight years there, before moving to Florida in 1992.
874 Mansfield: Okay. Tell me about your education. Where did you go to school?
9216 Stuart: For my secondary education [I] went to schools in the Pasadena area, private, parochial schools. Then for college [I] went to Cal. State University at Long Beach. I have a degree in journalism, of all things.
10137 Mansfield: Well tell me how you, I guess this is fruit and vegetables, so I'll say, tell me how you got connected working in agriculture?
11783 Stuart: Actually through the retail side of the business. When I was in my early years of college [I] went to work for a small independent grocery store in the Pasadena area, where I grew up. [I] did that for a couple of years and then had the opportunity to work in their produce section. When I was at Long Beach State, worked for a couple of different stores. Got married and went to work for a medium-sized, high-end chain down in the Newport Beach area. Spent a few years working for them in produce and then when I got of school an opportunity became available to work for a-ah-association of growers based in California. They did a variety of different things for the industry, everything from lobbying to marketing to-you know the usual things associations do communications.
12727 They had a magazine and there was an opportunity to go to work for them writing for their magazine. I thought it was a great way to, kind of bridge my journalism background, from school, with something I had been doing to pay my way through school (working in the fruit and vegetable side of the retail grocery business). So I went to work for them for literally a couple of years-well it wasn't just a couple of years; it was a lot of years. But I thought it would be a couple of years, writing for their magazine and newsletter and doing that type of thing. [I] got to really like the industry and the people in it. One thing led to another and I stayed with the m for thirteen years, until I jumped ship and came to Florida.
13340 So it was really a city up-bringing. But I think it's been interesting because it's brought me a little bit of a different perspective to what I do. Compared to a lot of the folks that run associations, or are involved in associations in agriculture, that grew up on the farm, or have spent their whole life involved in farming in some way.
1479 Mansfield: You said you were working in produce, could you explain that for me?
15708 Stuart: Well, literally [I] was merchandizing fruits and vegetables, clerking in the grocery stores. I had a very good friend of mine; in fact he was one of the guys in my wedding, whose dad owned a whole sale business in the Los Angeles produce market. Spent a lot of time with them and dealing with that business and getting to know how that whole sale side of the business worked. In fact they served one of the stores that I originally worked for. So I got to know the whole sale side of the business, a little bit, through them. In fact, that friend of mine now runs the business, in the LA market. He's still in it. But again, my experience was really on the retail side and not on the production side.
1692 When I started with Western Growers I had to learn all about the farming end of agriculture.
17150 Mansfield: You said that Western Growers did all the usual things that associations do, there are a lot of people who don't know what associations do.
18579 Stuart: Well, trade associations, whether they are agricultural associations or associations representing, doctors or lawyers, for that matter, all do a fundamentally, the same things. That's advocacy work; government relations, whether that's at the local, state, regional, national, or in some cases, international levels. They all provide their members some degree of communications or information sharing capability, whether that's producing news letters or magazines or web sites or rather detailed grass roots information sharing mechanism. They all do that kind of thing.
19231 Then they will get involved in individual services, whether that's insurance programs or providing different kinds of consulting work on labor relations or environmental type of activities. Those are some of the things that we did.
2065 Mansfield: The main thing people have been talking about is TFAA-
2112 Stuart: FTAA
2244 Mansfield: FTAA, Free Trade of the Americas.
23Stuart: Right.
24110 Mansfield: But it seems like this really started with NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] back in the-
25392 Stuart: Well it actually started a long time before that. The whole notion of establishing-uh-bilateral or regional types of free trade arrangements goes all the way back-uh-decades. But really the proliferation of them started back in the early 80's. The real first foray that the United States had in it was the US-Israel free trade agreement, which was negotiated, back in the early 80's.
26286 There then was an agreement called the Caribbean Basin Initiative, which is kind of the foundation under which the current CAFTA [Caribbean Area Free Trade Agreement] agreement is built. That was put together and passed by Congress, back in 1984 or 1985, somewhere in that neighborhood.
27612 The CBI [Caribbean Basin Initiative] was really a one way deal. That was simply the US eliminating its trade barriers on probably, 90% to 95% of all trade coming from the Caribbean and Central American Countries as away to help stabilize both their economies and their political structures. At that point in time, we all know were in some state of flux and uncertainty. So, that became an effort not some much to facilitate trade but to drive both economic and political stability in those countries. And engender a tighter relationship between the countries, for a variety of geopolitical and economic reasons.
28603 Then you had the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement and negotiations. That made a lot of sense, just simply because you share a three thousand mile boarder between the US and Canada. The economies are similar in nature. I've had some of my friends in Canada try and explain to me, over the years, that theirs is a developing country. But I don't think anybody really buys that. But you know, the currency levels, for the most part are somewhat similar (although, there have been some changes) but the agricultural infrastructure is very similar. So, it was relatively easy to come to that kind of agreement.
29301 And that was really one of the first comprehensive agreements. That was put together. Although there were some exceptions in that agreement, most noticeably some of the old Section 22 commodities, the dairy and those kinds of commodities, where there are import quotas and that type of thing involved.
30Essentially as the Canadian Agreement was being finalized, some discussion evolved about the possibility of having a US-Mexico Free Trade Agreement. That was in an on-again-off-again mode, for a number of years. All of a sudden, back in the late 80's, very early 90's the political motivation was there to start that process. It then kind of looped in to include Canada on a three way negotiation and that's where the NAFTA, the North American Free Trade component came in. Those negotiations took place, during the early 90's and [it] was eventually signed into law-actually went into effect in January of 1994.
31646 Of course, during that time you had the Uruguay round negotiations, which began in the mid to late 80's, 1986. Which continued on and wasn't implemented the early 90's as well. So, that kind of over laid the NAFTA negotiations and everything else that was going on. So it was a very complex period. Not unlike what we have here today, where we have, simultaneously, the FTAA negotiations under way. [Along with] a number of regional and bilateral agreements that have been passed by congress or are in the process of being negotiated by the United States and Bahrain, Morocco, Australia, Chile, I mean the list is very long at this point in time.
32262 Then of course we have the big Doha development round, which is the multilateral or WTO [World Trade Organization] negotiations that are going on, overlaying all of this. Here again, we're in a very complex period, when it comes to all of these trade agreements.
33127 Mansfield: That's one of the reasons they wanted to do this project now, because often history is written long after the event.
34214 But in the negotiations for NAFTA, I've read and have been told that there were some fears that produce, fruits and vegetables coming in from Mexico would put American fruit and vegetable growers at a disadvantage.
35733 Stuart: Well the fact of the matter is they already were at a disadvantage. Mexico's labor structure, regulatory structure is not the same as what exists here in the US. So when you look at input costs, particularly for fruits and vegetables, which are very labor intensive, Mexico already had a fairly significant input cost advantage. Where Mexico had difficulty competitively was just in the mere cost of transporting those products from West Mexico, central West Mexico, all the way into US markets. Obviously, they are going to be more competitive the closer those markets are to the Mexican boarder. So they were very competitive at the time in market is the southwestern and western US, simply because of the proximity issue.
36205 We got into markets in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia and that type of thing. The transportation costs, depending on where markets were for individual commodities, could present so challenges for them.
37269 With NAFTA, over a ten-year period you had the eliminations of tariffs take place. Depending on the tariff levels before NAFTA kicked in (which were either fairly large or insignificant), over time that has made Mexico just that much more competitive throughout the US.
3872 Mansfield: What was the Western Growers Association's position on NAFTA?
39581 Stuart: Very similar to the position here in Florida [over the FTAA], the difference being Florida, really at the height of it winter vegetable season, really competes with no one in the United States. There is no one that can grow tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash and strawberries and other commodities during the winter months the way Florida can. I mean California produces lettuce and some items during the winter months and does a very, very good job of it. But on those flowering vegetable types the only competition for Florida (during the winter months) is Mexico.
40253 California had concerns on the shoulders of their seasons, to the degree there was lettuce production in Mexico, obviously that was a concern. Melons and other types of commodities that California also produces, there were some significant concerns with
41104 Mexico. But California was in the frying pan, but Florida was in the fire during the NAFTA negotiations.
4277 Mansfield: So the Western Growers Association was in opposition to the NAFTA?
43325 Stuart: Well, yeah, I think over all you can say that. I think what we were trying to do at the time in California was to strike the best deal we possibly could in the negotiations. [Considering] the fact that at the time, it was apparent to us that it was unlikely we would be able to exempt ourselves from the negotiations.
44247 The idea was to get as long a phase-in period for the individual items as humanly possible. [This] would allow the industry time to make whatever adjustments where needed in order to keep ourselves competitive with the people south of the boarder.
4590 Mansfield: And what did you all do try and effect legislation? Who do you go to negotiate?
46770 Stuart: It wasn't so much effecting legislation. It was just simply working with the US Trade Representative's office and the Department of Agriculture, essentially those who were sitting down and negotiating the agreement, to craft the best possible package that we could. That involved trying to extend the phase-out period. During all of these negotiations, the way they work (and this really came true the NAFTA) is that there are a series of baskets that each individual item would fall into. The baskets were (we'll use letters) "A" would be immediate phase out of the tariffs. "B" would be intermediate phase out, of five years. "C" would be a longer-term phase out at ten years. And in the case of NAFTA they had a category called "C+" which was over ten years,
47436 And there were some items, including Florida citrus, that were included in a fifteen-year phase-out that was structured somewhat differently. Most of the commodities and their had a straight-line phase-out. Some of these "C+" categories had more of a "waterfall" effect. The tariffs essentially maintained a level plane over a period of time (say for ten to twelve years) but then at the twelfth year it fell off precipitously, to zero.
4848 That's kind of where we are with Florida citrus.
4996 Mansfield: You said you worked with the trade representatives and the Department of Agriculture?
50Stuart: Right.
5152 Mansfield: Could you go into more detail about that?
52754 Stuart: Obviously, there are people assigned, within the trade representative's office and the USDA and they work together as a team, to sit down with their counter parts. In the case of NAFTA, with their counterparts form Mexico, to sit down and workout the minutia of those agreements. Then as that process evolves, those base line types of discussions tend to bubble up in the process until they get to the sub-ministerial level. This would be administrators or people in the assistant secretary level, or assistant trade [representative] level. Finally, after a number of years, it bubbles up all the way to the top and the minister' office, which would be our US Trade Representative and Secretary of Agriculture and the Minister of Trade in Mexico.
53492 In the case of NAFTA, chief negotiators have to sit down and look at the whole package and essentially made a determination and whether or not the agreement, as negotiated is the best deal that they could get. At that point in time, if the administration of each country believes that they got a deal that makes sense -recognizing that in any agreement you're going to have some people that will fare better than others-you take it and present it to Congress and hope that they'll approve it.
54166 Mansfield: So that's how the system works. But I'd be more interested in knowing what you all did. Who did you approach? What did you say to them? More of a hands-on-
55906 Stuart: Well you have to take a step back and determine what products are going to be effected most severely. You can't just take a shotgun approach at the process and say that everything at the end of the day is going to be negatively effected. You really have to ratchet it down to the point where you [ask] "Where are our real problems?" Then you got to go back and develop the economic arguments that backup the case your trying to make. That's working with the people at you land grant [universities], private economists and even working within the Department of Agriculture, with their economic group. And the International Trade Commission plays a legislatively mandated role in that, looking at how these agreements would effect individual products, whether it's in agriculture or [manufacturing]. That's their job, to look specifically at how these agreements would affect individual commodities.
56797 You kind of aggregate that all together and walk into the Department of Agriculture, or the US Trade Representatives Office and say, "Look, if we do this, if we take these tariffs to zero, this is the type of displacement we're going to have in the US." [Whatever the item might be, tomatoes, or citrus, in terms of the loss of production, loss of self-sufficiency it really makes sense for the US to maintain production of those items. This insures we have a domestic supply of those products.] Not to mention the other impacts to rural economies and that type of time, whether they be in California and Arizona, or Texas of Florida, or where ever those items happen to be produced. They tend not to be produced in Miami or Tampa. They tend to be produced in fairly rural areas around the state.
57523 So that's the case you have to make. Quite frankly, those cases are weighed against other cases that are presented. They are also weighed against the cases presented by the other country. That's the challenge the negotiators have, is sitting down and taking all of that input and saying, "Okay, what is it we really have to workout here? What do we have to give up in the process, in order to obtain our goals?" Whether it's Mexico on a bilateral basis, or the whether hit's the entire world on Doha or Uruguay Round basis.
58185 Mansfield: When I interviewed Mr. Bouis he talked about attempting to organize different grower organizations to unite in opposition to this part of NAFTA. What do you know about that?
59229 Stuart: There certainly was an effort to bring folks together. There was a moderate amount of cooperation, but quite frankly, with in the fruit and vegetable sector in the US, agreements affect different people in different ways.
60846 For example, the apple industry was very much a proponent of NAFTA, because, number one, they had no tariffs and number two, they saw a tremendous market potential in Mexico. At that time there was essentially a prohibition on US apples moving into Mexico. They saw that as very much an opportunity. So, you know when you have competing interests within an industry sector like that, it makes unity pretty darn difficult. Within your spectrum you have your poles, so you have a couple here at opposite ends. Then in the middle you got a whole bunch of other folks. In order to have unity you got to focus in one area. And fortunately it tends to be towards the middle, because you're never going to get [the extremes to come together]. Sometimes it's pretty tough to get people at the [extremes] to even walk an inch towards the middle.
61390 That was the challenge we had, from an organizational or logistical standpoint, of trying to bring disparate interests to the table, within an industry. That led to some of Frank's frustration. Because he tried to identify some folks he felt should all feel the same way. But even in Western Growers there were disparate interests, in terms of what threats or opportunities NAFTA presented.
62369 Again, for Florida it was all one way way. It was coming in this direction. There was really no reciprocal opportunities in Mexico that would mitigate their opposition to the agreement. Whereas in California, Texas, the northwest and other areas [they perceived] at least enough opportunity there to have a dampening effect on the hard line opposition in the agreement.
63133 Mansfield: I just want to make sure I understand you correctly. Certain sectors of the industry saw opportunities in approving NAFTA?
6437 Stuart: [Nods his head: affirmative.]
6551 Mansfield: Which sectors of the industry were they?
66582 Stuart: A lot of the tree fruit folks saw opportunity down there, apples, deciduous fruits. You know Mexico doesn't grow a lot of peaches, pears and nectarines. So there was an opportunity there, to some degree; and still is in Mexico. One of the biggest frustrations for the Californian deciduous fruit industry, some eleven years after the agreement's been in place, they are still wrangling with Mexico in getting fruit into the country. We still can't get citrus into Mexico from Florida, despite the fact that there is some opportunity for fresh citrus in Mexico, from Florida.
67745 So some of those frustrations exist. But having said that, ten, twelve years ago, there were barriers that existed were tariff related. NAFTA was an opportunity to remove some of those tariffs. In California, you also had folks that were farming on both sides of the boarder. That has a mitigating impact, because you're not totally united from the standpoint if you had tomato producers in California that are growing tomatoes in the winter time in Mexico and in the spring, summer and fall in California. That Mexico production is part of their year round production capability. It is very important to them. Removing an 8% to 10% tariff equivalent, ad valorem equivalent was something that was attractive to them. That had a dampening effect.
68103 Mansfield: Okay. Now we'll jump from California and the Western Growers Association to here in Florida.
69Stuart: Sure.
70Mansfield: I know that the Mexican citrus has not affected Florida citrus, as people originally thought. They tell me that the Mexicans don't have the infrastructure to export citrus here. But what about, the other fruits and vegetables, like tomatoes?
71714 Stuart: Well, I'll still make a case for citrus. Because as I mentioned to you earlier, I don't think the final chapter in that book has been written. There was and still is a very precipitous fall in the tariff that will occur on FCOJ [Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice] in single strength juice coming in from Mexico. The fifteen-year agreement started in 2004. The real precipitous fall in that tariff doesn't start occurring, really until this year and next year. Then it falls off dramatically until it hits zero. So that significant tariff has still been there. And it is a significant tariff on FCOJ and single strength juice coming in from anywhere (Brazil, Mexico, where ever it happens to be coming from).
72So whether or not that tariff reduction, from an economic standpoint will provide some economic incentive for Mexico to go out and upgrade and improve their infrastructure for grove development, maintenance and processing improvements, remains to be seen. I haven't written that threat off. I personally still think it's out there. Now there are lot of people who are a lot smarter than I am, on the subject. But if you just look at the veneer of the issue, with the way the NAFTA agreement was structured on citrus, it's worked as it was intended to. It was designed to extend that pain as far out as possible. Will the pain ultimately come? I don't think we know. It hasn't yet, but as I said, I don't think that chapter has been written yet.
73245 Mansfield: Okay, but I mentioned tomatoes and other vegetables because one man I interviewed mentioned a lot of the vegetables grown around Lake Okeechobee weren't being grown there any more, because they had been replaced by Mexican vegetables.
74Stuart: What specifically was he mentioning?
7520 Mansfield: Tomatoes.
7685 Stuart: Tomatoes haven't been grown around Lake Okeechobee in twenty or thirty years.
7739 Mansfield: Well that might explain it.
78183 Okay, let's get back to Florida citrus and the threat, Mexico, that's coming. But [the threat from threat from removing the Brazilian tariff] seems to be what's concerning people now.
79321 Stuart: Yeah, 'cause Brazil is the eight hundred pound gorilla of the citrus industry, worldwide. It is significantly bigger than the Florida industry in term of the number of boxes produced. It is a huge looming threat out there, no question. It is probably the darkest cloud that hangs over the Florida citrus industry.
80208 You've got a problem with canker in the state right now. But in the longer term, I think we're going to beat the canker thing. Whether or not we can keep our finger in the dike with Brazil remains to be seen.
81102 Mansfield: Well what is Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association doing to influence affect legislation?
82323 Stuart: Well there's an effort being coordinated, actually through Florida Citrus Mutual, that is trying to bring the citrus industry together. And it has brought the citrus industry together, to specifically hold on to that tariff in the FTAA negotiations. Essentially the objective is to exempt citrus from the agreement.
83600 There is a historical precedent for exempting certain items from agreements in the past. And given the competitive nature of the Brazilian industry and the Florida industry, we're really talking about two states here. The Brazilian industry is really concentrated in a very, very few hands. Their production costs, going back to the discussion we had earlier, are from a labor standpoint, a fraction of what they are here in Florida. Which is problematic. So as a result, think there is a good economic argument out there for maintaining that tariff and maintaining a viable industry here in Florida.
84304 Otherwise, if the tariff goes away, I think the studies have pretty well show that the face of the Florida citrus industry [will] change dramatically, over a period of time; until we're not much of citrus player anymore and Brazil essentially has a monopolistic position in the world orange juice market.
85432 If the objective of these agreements is to enhance competition to benefit consumers, in this particular case a good case has been made that it will have the opposite effect. But if you haven't talked to Andy LaVigne, at Florida Citrus Mutual, you need to. Andy is the quarter back on that activity and we're one of the spokes in the wheel. We're working with the industry to do that, but he's the quarterback. (To mix my metaphors.)
8682 Mansfield: [laughs] Well tell me what you all are doing. What is this spoke doing?
87384 Stuart: Well, what we're doing is obviously cooperating in that process. But we've got-this organization is very, very diverse in term of the commodities we represent. We represent the vegetable industry in the state. We've got a significant citrus membership. We've got sugar cane producers that are members of the organization, tropical fruit, sod and a number of other commodities.
88434 So, it's always a challenge for us when these agreements are negotiated, because we've got so many hats to wear for different groups. It makes it very, very challenging. Our objective here, as it is with all agreements, is to try and work with the negotiators as good a foundation in these agreements as we possibly can. So that when it comes to individual commodities they've got the ability to go in and make their individual cases.
89145 Mansfield: You've said you represented many groups, from sod and sugar cane, how do you-I'm trying to think of the best way to put this question-
90731 Stuart: I think I know where you're headed. Most of those groups have individual organizations that really carry the banner for their individual tariffs or aspects that are specific to their organizations. It's tough for use to do that. We do it in some cases, simply because there are no other groups out there doing it for them. But again, our-the majority of our efforts have to be focused on the broader issues within these agreements in terms of their over all structure and what they call modalities-the structure of the negotiations and how they fit. Then working with them to advance the cause of individual commodity positions, whether it's orange juice or tomatoes, or tropical fruit, or whatever the issue happens to be.
91217 Mansfield: But you talked about, and worked with the Western Growers Association, how the apple people were in favor of NAFTA and some of the fruit and vegetable people were leery of it others had interests in Mexico.
92Stuart: Right.
9338 Mansfield: How does that compare with-
94469 Stuart: It's very similar, very similar. What we did at Western Growers, back in during the NAFTA and Uruguay Round negotiations was, again, to try and build that solid foundation. So that you did have a tariff reduction structure, that for highly sensitive products allowed for as long a phase-out as is possible, within the confines of the negotiations. To try and develop some kind of a safeguard that would provide some interim help for commodities that needed it.
95559 We still haven't gotten there on that issue. That's still something that I fervently believe remains to be developed. But we've got that typical square peg we're trying to fit into a round hole. It just doesn't work. But that's something that we're working on. The good news with that is, I think we probably have more support in some of the lessor developed countries as well as in developed countries, like Japan and to a lessor extent, Europe. [They] see the needs for those kinds of special safeguards for seasonal and highly perishable types of products.
9689 Mansfield: But here in Florida, is there anyone who would like to see the tariff removed?
9718 Stuart: In citrus?
9850 Mansfield: Or in fruits and vegetables in general.
9966 Stuart: For FTAA, if they are out there I don't know who they are.
100146 Mansfield: How do you enlist the fruit and vegetable people, who aren't citrus [growers] into supporting this program to keep the tariff in place?
101556 Stuart: Well, you can't. In those respects each commodity group has to carry their own water. For the most part, you're not going to get the citrus guys to carry the vegetable industry's water and vice versa. Now if there is a commonality to the issue, where you can link those up, then yes there is an opportunity to go out and do that. But idea of the vegetable guys going up to Washington and sitting down and arguing for the maintenance of the citrus tariff, that's pretty unlikely. They're not going to do it. And there is no reason for them to do it.
102288 For that matter, there is not much creditability in doing it either. If I was a [trade] negotiator and some vegetable guy came in suggested that they not eliminate the citrus tariff, I'd have to ask the question, "Why are you concerned about it? How's that going to effect your business."
103Mansfield: I asked that question because the other people I've interviewed have talked about trying to contact individual representatives in the congress and senate and trying to sway them to their way of thinking. So in order to build a large front of growers, they tried to enlist folks as allies. So I was curious about-
104566 Stuart: Yeah, but lets face it, you're not going to spend your political capital unless there is going to be value in it for you. There has got to be some threat or benefit coming back to the individual to motivate them to do that. You got tot find out what that is. And if it is out there, sure you can try and convince them to make that argument. At the end of the day, for the members of the delegation, or more broadly the congress, it's all about votes. Unless you've got critical mass of support for your case, you're not going to get very fare in the process.
105521 There's twenty-five members of the Florida delegation that are out there, that are potentially allies. You got to talk to everyone of those offices. You got to stay with them, answer any questions they may have and be as believable as humanly possible in making those arguments. If you throw a bunch of garbage out there, eventually they are going to see it for what it is. Your ability to hold on to them is going to be pretty marginal. You got to make a good creditable case, you just can't throw them a bunch of fluff.
10687 Mansfield: So how does Florida Fruit and Vegetable association build a creditable case?
107Stuart: Well you got to go back and do the economic work. You've got to have a solid case for what you're trying to do. And in the case of the citrus industry and FTAA I think that case has been made very, very well.
10867 Mansfield: What do you think will happen if the tariff is repealed?
109537 Stuart: Well, I you're better off talking to the economists at the University of Florida or elsewhere on that. They've done the modeling on that. Guys like Tom Spreen and others can sit down and give you that kind of information. Again, I think over time the differences in production costs will results in lower returns and on a pounds per solid basis and that's going to erode the economic viability of the industry. Whether that happens in one year or five years, or fifteen or twenty years-again that's something for the economists.
110I've seen what's happened with the vegetable industry in Florida. After NAFTA passed, some remarkable things happened. There was a significant devaluation of the Peso, which created a tremendous advantage for Mexico in exporting vegetables here. It came in, in a big, big way. It came in at very low prices. Prices that were profitable for producers in Mexico because of the exchange differences. They were picking up dollars in return for what they were shipping. It hurt a lot of small tomato growers here in the state.
111358 The reason we don't have a lot of small tomato growers here in Florida is because the only way they could survive is improve their economy of scale. And so now you've got a few big players and virtually no small growers. The small growers that are out there are aligned with and economically dependant upon the larger grower-shipper marketing organizations.
11261 Mansfield: So there's been a concentration of tomato growers?
113100 Stuart: Definitely. You know we used to count them in the hundreds, now we count them in the dozens.
11460 Mansfield: What do you see as the future for Florida citrus?
115397 Stuart: It all depends on what happens with Brazil. It depends on what happens with cankers. Ands it depends on what happens with how many people keep moving into the state of Florida. You know there are a lot variables in the equation. I don't know. Depending on which day of the week it is, which hat do you want me to put on? I can argue-just about anybody can argue the case in different ways.
116As far as the canker issue is concerned there is a road map there. As long as we can keep funds coming and keep the issue out of the courts, there is a road map to solve that problem. If we can maintain the tariff I think there is a road map there that over time insures that you've got a healthy, vital, viable industry.
117878 The urban pressure, you know is a question. You look at parts of the state now; you're seeing golf course communities pop up in. Ten or fifteen years ago people didn't think that would happen in a hundred years. Here we are a decade or so later and they are showing up. You just never know. Florida is a very attractive state; from a real estate stand point. There are still a lot of people moving here. There's that pressure along the coast and as its density increases it forces people inland. That's where you get into some of the prime citrus and vegetable growing areas. All you have to do is drive down the east coast, starting in southern Brevard County and Indian River County. All the way down to Palm Beach and Broward County [you'll] see what's going on in real estate in Florida; the conflict that is there, in terms of land use, between agriculture and development.
118256 In many cases "them" is "us." If you've got an orange grove or a grapefruit grove that is a producing asset. Ultimately the question has to be asked is that asset producing as much as a grapefruit grove as it would as a strip mall or a housing development?
119That's a decision only a landowner can make.
120151 So those pressures are here and they are mounting. I think at the end of the day that's where the biggest competition comes from, all else being equal.
121129 Mansfield: I've had several people comment on the pressure to sell. Barren groves are now going for as much as productive groves.
12232 Stuart: It's all about the land.
123105 Mansfield: What are you hearing from your constitutes, about pressure from development and the threat of-
124704 Stuart: Here again, it depends on who you talk to. This year's been unique because of the impact of the three hurricanes. But last year, if you walked around and talked to folks down in the Indian River [area], it might be crass to say, but the market was so bad those walking around with a smile on their face were the ones with a land deal going on. Those who were somber were those who were relying on the grapefruit to pay the bills. Again, that's changed this year; there isn't any grapefruit to ship, because of the storms. So everybody is a dark mood. But there are still folks doing land deals. I don't think the pressure on that is going to subside. It's just going to intensify all of the time.
125491 What the long term impact of the storms are, remains to be seen. Quite frankly, I think what's going to happen is you're going to see some marginal producing groves, some older groves, that might have some disease or pest pressure-it may make sense, at this point in time, to do something else with that ground. And to the degree that, that happens it can change the economics of the grapefruit business. But that's not a one or two year process. That has a longer horizon, it's hard to say.
126224 Mansfield: That brings up another question, talking about the smaller growers and the large growers. What are you hearing from the large growers and the small growers? Are you hearing the same arguments, different arguments?
127501 Stuart: Well, you know a large integrated citrus operation is going to have different challenges than a small grower who just may own fifteen to twenty acres. That's not their line of business. They're just an investor and that's what they own. It goes through a packing house and then from that packinghouse to a processor, or going straight to a processor. So the challenges are all different, depending on the size and what they are growing and whether it's going to fresh or the processed market.
12870 But a small citrus grower, if he's got good variety, can get a return-
129[End Tape 1, Side A. Begin Tape 1, Side B.]
130569 Stuart: on that investment. He certainly could this year, particularly in grapefruit, if they happen to be in the right place. But again this was a unique situation. A lot of small growers in oranges for processing, particularly in some early mid and other varieties have been struggling. Those guys are having a tough time. It's hard to look at that investment and argue that it's really returning what you could get doing something else with [that land]. In some cases you don't have much choice, because there is a lot of development going on. But that's changing.
131225 Mansfield: Like I said, some people are just waiting for the right offer to come along. But you talked earlier about working with Florida Citrus Mutual. Tell me more about the lobbying efforts of Florida Fruit and Vegetable.
13216 Stuart: On what?
13323 Mansfield: On the FTAA.
134195 Stuart: Well, again, we're a member of the team. To the degree that we need to get up and through our efforts talk to some folks in Washington. We have in the past and will do that in the future.
135261 But, again, we're part of the team when it comes to citrus and the FTAA. We're not leading the charge. So we do not go up independently of what that joint effort would do and lobby either the Administration or Congress. It would be part of a coordinated effort.
136Mansfield: So you follow the lead of Citrus Mutual?
137243 Stuart: Well, on that issue, yeah. It doesn't do us any good to have a bunch of "chiefs" I mane somebody's got to be the quarterback for citrus in that effort and that's Citrus Mutual. I think we've all identified them as the group to do that.
138Mansfield: Well is Andy LaVigne the quarterback?
139Stuart: Yeah.
140206 Mansfield: Well, I'll have many, many questions when it is time to talk with him. I've been throwing questions at you for the past hour, is there anything you want to comment on that I haven't asked about?
1411091 Stuart: No. I think we've pretty much covered the waterfront. Again, the process of negotiating these agreements has gotten incredibly complex. If I look back at what was involved ten or fifteen years ago, twenty years ago-it seemed complex at the time [laughs] but it was really pretty straightforward. Now, with just the multitude of different things that are going on you could spend (and people do) all your time doing nothing but monitoring these agreements and providing input to the Administration and Congress about the impact or potential impact of those agreements on their respective industries. When you've got something going on at the WTO level and these huge regional bilateral agreements and these individual bilateral things-which tend to bubble up. What you see happen with these bilateral agreements tends to bubble up to the larger agreements. You can't just worry about the big picture you've got to focus on the smaller deals too. Something could happen there, that could become the foundation for a larger agreement latter on. You've got to stay on top of it.
142631 The other thing is, Congress is playing a much more intensive role than they have in the past as these agreements develop. It used to be they'd wait until it showed up on their doorstep. But now members of Congress, on both sides, are weighing in and weighing in very strongly with the way they thing things ought to be done. You know, they can't meddle and get involved with the negotiations themselves but the can certainly have conversations with people at senior levels at he US Trade Representative's office or at the USDA. They tell them what they think, whether it's about Florida citrus or sugar- whatever it happens to be.
143550 The good news about that is the Administration, generally, that kind of a process leads to an agreement that is ultimately going to be more acceptable to the Congress. But in the case of CAFTA, even with that, its evident at this point in time, the Administration doesn't have the votes to get that one passed. They are going to have to do something somewhere, on one of these sticking points (a major one is sugar) in order to get that one over the hump and get it passed. Because right now it doesn't look like they've got the votes to get it done.
144Mansfield: We've been talking about-I guess I've been citrus centric in this.
14581 Everybody I've been talking to has been working in citrus. But who do you see as-
146388 Stuart: In the FTAA the target is squarely on the citrus industry's back. On NAFTA although there is a lot of attention paid to citrus and sugar, the real vulnerability out there was vegetables. It really was. The vegetable industry, because of the nature of production systems, here in Florida and in Mexico, there were no other eight hundred pound gorillas out there, other than Mexico.
14784 Mansfield: So you think NAFTA has adversely affected Florida's vegetable production?
148406 Stuart: Definitely. It's transformed the industry. It's chased the small grower out of the state. A lot of them have gone out of business. We still have a large volume of tomatoes and peppers and other commodities being produced in Florida. But it's only because of the tenacity and the aggressive posture taken by the industry, to try and maintain and retake market share, after the agreement was passed.
149293 In the year or two leading up to NAFTA the market share for Florida tomatoes in the wintertime was about 60% to 65%. But two to three years after that agreement was passed it was 30% for the winter market. There were a whole bunch of things that contributed to that, but NAFTA was one of them.
150497 One of the things that NAFTA did that people don't pay a lot of attention to is the fact that it encouraged a tremendous amount of investment into sectors of Mexican agriculture that were export oriented. In fact Mexico was looking for that. A lot that investment came from inside Mexico, from non-traditional sources. At about that time one of the biggest tobacco companies in Mexico invested heavily in Mexico's tomato business. [They wanted to] increase acreage and shipping tomatoes to the US.
151289 All of that happened at the same time NAFTA came on line. Then you had the depreciation, or devaluation of the Peso, of 40% or more. So it just cascaded into an avalanche of [tomatoes] coming in from Mexico which decimated the industry. It has taken the industry a lot of years to recover.
152241 But that's all cyclical. This business is not only cyclical in the medium or long term but it's cyclical in the individual seasons. It's a very volatile business. A 2% or 3% increase in supply can have disastrous impacts on the market place.
15373 Mansfield: Supply is down, the price is up so people produce a lot. Then-
154461 Stuart: It goes in the tank. The funny thing is, it's predictable. We've gotten to the point now [where] you've got this global approach to agricultural production. Just looking at the tomato market in the US, you've got the US production and Mexican production, which is significant. Up in Canada and Europe and now in Mexico, you've got all these hothouse tomatoes. It's all generated to provide a consistent supply of tomatoes twelve months out of the year.
155543 Well this industry has always made money on the shoulders, the peaks and valleys of that production curve. You don't make money at peak production, you make money on the shoulders, either coming up or going down. So when you loose those shoulders the profitability of the industry flattens out as well. If you flatten it out at a point where the profit is less than the cost of production you got to find ways to save per unit costs, otherwise you're going out of business. Those who have done that successfully are the ones who have survived.
156108 Mansfield: Who is the opposition looking to remove the tariff? Obviously the Brazilians are, but [who else]?
157771 Stuart: It's the Brazilians. They stand to gain. It's market access to the US at a lower cost. It would significantly reduce their costs. They're the beneficiaries, to the degree that there are interests in the US that are interested in moving the FTAA forward and the citrus tariff issue is seen as an obstacle. They are the opposition also, because they want to remove that obstacle. The trick is to convince them that removing the obstacle is by exempting the product from the negotiations. The difficulty there is convincing the Brazilians to do that. It's a big climb. Also trying to convince the people at the White House and the US Trade Representative's office that it's okay have an agreement that doesn't include 100% of every tariff line item that the US has.
158130 Mansfield: Can you think of people who want FTAA to come through and aren't concerned about citrus, the ones in the United States.
159Stuart: Oh there is a whole bunch of people that want the FTAA to move through. There is a bunch of people in Florida that want the FTAA to go through. There is a very strong business lobby that is focused on the relationship between Central and South America and the state of Florida, in terms of two-way trade. They want this in an awful way. One of their goals is to establish the FTAA secretariat in Miami and have Miami serve as the hub of the Western Hemisphere for trade and commerce.
160242 So all of that is at play, here in Florida, while all this is going on. Here again is to try and develop an alliance or partnership with those folks, to allow them to achieve their goal and at the same time preserve Florida's citrus industry.
161Mansfield: When you say a business can you be more specific than that?
162Stuart: I don't think there is a business lobby in the state, from the Chamber of
163Commerce, to Associated Industries, all of them, that aren't supportive of the FTAA.
16440 Mansfield: How about outside of Florida?
16535 Stuart: The US Chamber of Commerce.
166Mansfield: But no specific industries?
167Stuart: Virtually every industry. The labor unions are against it, because of the jobs issue. But virtually every business conglomeration and group in the country is supportive of FTAA.
16859 Mansfield: So management is for it and labor is against it?
169Stuart: Essentially.
170Mansfield: The one question I didn't ask you when I started, and this is a question I ask everybody I interview, describe your current occupation.
171244 Stuart: Sure, I'm the president and chief operating officer, the full time staff executive. We have a chairman and chief executive officer, who is a producer. They serve two-year terms, but they are voluntary leaders. They are not compensated.
17253 Mansfield: Okay. So in your position, what do you do?
173Stuart: As president?
17424 Mansfield: As president.
175415 Stuart: I oversee the day to day operation of the association. I over see our lobbying activities, our labor and environmental services and so forth. Consulting functions that we have here are communications. We also have a subsidiary that provides third-party administrative services for a large insurance company that's been tied with the organization for a number of years. Basically I'm overseeing all of that.
176117 Mansfield: Do you think it would be possible for me to talk to your lobbyist, to find out how they go about lobbying?
17722 Stuart: On this issue?
178Mansfield: [Nods his head: affirmative.]
179331 Stuart: Here again, when we lobby on this, I don't have my lobbyist in DC working on this specific issue. Andy LaVigne is the guy to talk to on that. If they want us to go in and talk with someone we certainly will. We're ready, willing and able to do that. But that's all in Andy LaVigne's shop. He's the guy responsible for that.
180Mansfield: Okay. I hope I have enough time to get him to answer these questions for me.
181143 Stuart: Well, you need to if this is what the project's all about. If you don't talk to him you're going t have a big hole in your information.
182Mansfield: Well, we're trying to talk to everyone from the growers to Andy LaVigne to some politicians.
18375 Stuart: If you're going to talk to someone you need to talk to Adam Putnam.
18434 Mansfield: Adam Putnam? He's the-
185Stuart: He represents Florida' Twelfth Congressional district. Polk County.
18668 Mansfield: The man I talked to yesterday was having supper with him.
187138 Stuart: Well I was supposed to have dinner with Adam last night, but it was just too long a day. I saw him for a little bit and came home.
188Mansfield: Did you talk to him about this issue?
189Stuart: We've talked numerous times about this issue.
19055 Mansfield: Can you share with me what you talked about?
19163 Stuart: He knows more about it than I do. He's a citrus grower.
192135 Mansfield: I'd just be curious to know, to get some [idea] of the interaction between you and him about what you said and his response.
193437 Stuart: At this point in time it's tactical. It's a tactical discussion. It's not a philosophical discussion. Adam Putnam is a Florida citrus grower. His family has been growing citrus for generations. He is fully supportive of the effort to try and preserve that tariff. So any discussion I have with him is just merely tactical, to see what's happening. I don't know what I could share with you that would be instructive at this point.
19497 Mansfield: Just some of the personal interaction that's often missing from the historical record.
195270 Stuart: I don't know. Again, here Adam is engaged, as engaged as anybody in project [can be]. It is something that directly affects him and a lot of the people in his district. So he is taking a very strong leadership role in dealing with that. He's part of the process.
196Mansfield: Okay. That sounds like a good place to stop.
197Stuart: Okay.
198199 Mansfield: But I should remind you again that this information will be deposited in the Special Collections of the University Library and we need your permission for researchers to have access to it.
199Stuart: That's fine. No problem.
20043 Mansfield: Well let me turn this thing off.
20119 [End of interview.]
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Citrus Oral History Project Globalization Research Center University of South Florida Interview with: Mike Stuart Interviewed by: William Mansfield Location: Maitland, Florida Date: May 10, 2005 Transcribed by: Wm. Mansfield Edited by: Wm. Mansfield [Tape 1, Side A.] Bill Mansfield: I always but a label on the disk by saying, This is Bill Mansfield from the University of South Floridas Globalization Research Center talking to Mr. Mike Stuart here in is this Orlando or Maitland? Mike Stuart: Mait land Mansfield: Okay, Florida on May 10, 2005. And Mr. Stuart, we always get people to start out by stating their name and telling when they were born and where they were born. Stuart: Okay, my name is Mike Stuart. I was born in Pasadena, California on October 14, 1953. Mansfield: Okay. And I reckon you grew up in California? Stuart: I did. I spent the first thirty eight years of my life in southern California. Born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles. And, again, spent the first thirty eight years t here, before moving to Florida in 1992. Mansfield: Okay. Tell me about your education. Where did you go to school?

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2 Stuart: For my secondary education [I] went to schools in the Pasadena area, private, parochial schools. Then for college [I] went to Cal. State University at Long Beach. I have a degree in journalism, of all things. Mansfield: Well tell me how you, I guess this is fruit and vegetables, so Ill say, tell me how you got connected working in agriculture? Stuart: Actually through the retail si de of the business. When I was in my early years of college [I] went to work for a small independent grocery store in the Pasadena area, where I grew up. [I] did that for a couple of years and then had the opportunity to work in their produce section. When I was at Long Beach State, worked for a couple of different stores. Got married and went to work for a medium sized, high end chain down in the Newport Beach area. Spent a few years working for them in produce and then when I got of school an opportunity became available to work for a ah association of growers based in California. They did a variety of different things for the industry, everything from lobbying to marketing to you know the usual things associations do communications. They had a magazine a nd there was an opportunity to go to work for them writing for their magazine. I thought it was a great way to, kind of bridge my journalism background, from school, with something I had been doing to pay my way through school (working in the fruit and veg etable side of the retail grocery business). So I went to work for them for literally a couple of years well it wasnt just a couple of years; it was a lot of years. But I thought it would be a couple of years, writing for their magazine and newsletter and doing that type of thing. [I] got to really like the industry and the people in it. One thing led to another and I stayed with the m for thirteen years, until I jumped ship and came to Florida. So it was really a city up bringing. But I think its been i nteresting because its brought me a little bit of a different perspective to what I do. Compared to a lot of the folks that run associations, or are involved in associations in agriculture, that grew up on the farm, or have spent their whole life involved in farming in some way.

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3 Mansfield: You said you were working in produce, could you explain that for me? Stuart: Well, literally [I] was merchandizing fruits and vegetables, clerking in the grocery stores. I had a very good friend of mine; in fact he was one of the guys in my wedding, whose dad owned a whole sale business in the Los Angeles produce market. Spent a lot of time with them and dealing with that business and getting to know how that whole sale side of the business worked. In fact they served o ne of the stores that I originally worked for. So I got to know the whole sale side of the business, a little bit, through them. In fact, that friend of mine now runs the business, in the LA market. Hes still in it. But again, my experience was really on the retail side and not on the production side. When I started with Western Growers I had to learn all about the farming end of agriculture. Mansfield: You said that Western Growers did all the usual things that associations do, there are a lot of people who dont know what associations do. Stuart: Well, trade associations, whether they are agricultural associations or associations representing, doctors or lawyers, for that matter, all do a fundamentally, the same things. Thats advocacy work; government relations, whether thats at the local, state, regional, national, or in some cases, international levels. They all provide their members some degree of communications or information sharing capability, whether thats producing news letters or magazines or web sites or rather detailed grass roots information sharing mechanism. They all do that kind of thing. Then they will get involved in individual services, whether thats insurance programs or providing different kinds of consulting work on labor rela tions or environmental type of activities. Those are some of the things that we did. Mansfield: The main thing people have been talking about is TFAA Stuart: FTAA

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4 Mansfield: FTAA, Free Trade of the Americas. Stuart: Right. Mansfield: But it seems like this really started with NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] back in the Stuart: Well it actually started a long time before that. The whole notion of establishing uh bilateral or regional types of free trade arrangements goes all the way back uh decades. But really the proliferation of them started back in the early 80s. The real first foray that the United States had in it was the US Israel free trade agreement, which was negotiated, back in the early 80s. There then was an agreement called the Caribbean Basin Initiative, which is kind of the foundation under which the current CAFTA [Caribbean Area Free Trade Agreement] agreement is built. That was put together and passed by Congress, back in 1984 or 1985, somewhere in that neighborhood. Th e CBI [Caribbean Basin Initiative] was really a one way deal. That was simply the US eliminating its trade barriers on probably, 90% to 95% of all trade coming from the Caribbean and Central American Countries as away to help stabilize both their economies and their political structures. At that point in time, we all know were in some state of flux and uncertainty. So, that became an effort not some much to facilitate trade but to drive both economic and political stability in those countries. And engender a tighter relationship between the countries, for a variety of geopolitical and economic reasons. Then you had the US Canada Free Trade Agreement and negotiations. That made a lot of sense, just simply because you share a three thousand mile boarder betwe en the US and Canada. The economies are similar in nature. Ive had some of my friends in Canada try and explain to me, over the years, that theirs is a developing country. But I dont think anybody really buys that. But you know, the currency levels, for the most part are somewhat similar (although, there have been some changes) but the agricultural infrastructure is very similar. So, it was relatively easy to come to that kind of agreement.

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5 And that was really one of the first comprehensive agreements. T hat was put together. Although there were some exceptions in that agreement, most noticeably some of the old Section 22 commodities, the dairy and those kinds of commodities, where there are import quotas and that type of thing involved. Essentially as the Canadian Agreement was being finalized, some discussion evolved about the possibility of having a US Mexico Free Trade Agreement. That was in an on again off again mode, for a number of years. All of a sudden, back in the late 80s, very early 90s the po litical motivation was there to start that process. It then kind of looped in to include Canada on a three way negotiation and thats where the NAFTA, the North American Free Trade component came in. Those negotiations took place, during the early 90s and [it] was eventually signed into law actually went into effect in January of 1994. Of course, during that time you had the Uruguay round negotiations, which began in the mid to late 80s, 1986. Which continued on and wasnt implemented the early 90s as w ell. So, that kind of over laid the NAFTA negotiations and everything else that was going on. So it was a very complex period. Not unlike what we have here today, where we have, simultaneously, the FTAA negotiations under way. [Along with] a number of regi onal and bilateral agreements that have been passed by congress or are in the process of being negotiated by the United States and Bahrain, Morocco, Australia, Chile, I mean the list is very long at this point in time. Then of course we have the big Doha development round, which is the multi lateral or WTO [World Trade Organization] negotiations that are going on, overlaying all of this. Here again, were in a very complex period, when it comes to all of these trade agreements. Mansfield: Thats one of th e reasons they wanted to do this project now, because often history is written long after the event. But in the negotiations for NAFTA, Ive read and have been told that there were some fears that produce, fruits and vegetables coming in from Mexico would put American fruit and vegetable growers at a disadvantage.

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6 Stuart: Well the fact of the matter is they already were at a disadvantage. Mexicos labor structure, regulatory structure is not the same as what exists here in the US. So when you look at input costs, particularly for fruits and vegetables, which are very labor intensive, Mexico already had a fairly significant input cost advantage. Where Mexico had difficulty competitively was just in the mere cost of transporting those products from West Mexic o, central West Mexico, all the way into US markets. Obviously, they are going to be more competitive the closer those markets are to the Mexican boarder. So they were very competitive at the time in market is the southwestern and western US, simply becau se of the proximity issue. We got into markets in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia and that type of thing. The transportation costs, depending on where markets were for individual commodities, could present so challenges for them. With NAFTA, over a ten year period you had the eliminations of tariffs take place. Depending on the tariff levels before NAFTA kicked in (which were either fairly large or insignificant), over time that has made Mexico just that much more competitive throughout the US. Mans field: What was the Western Growers Associations position on NAFTA? Stuart: Very similar to the position here in Florida [over the FTAA], the difference being Florida, really at the height of it winter vegetable season, really competes with no one in the United States. There is no one that can grow tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, squash and strawberries and other commodities during the winter months the way Florida can. I mean California produces lettuce and some items during the winter months and does a very, very good job of it. But on those flowering vegetable types the only competition for Florida (during the winter months) is Mexico. California had concerns on the shoulders of their seasons, to the degree there was lettuce production in Mexico, ob viously that was a concern. Melons and other types of commodities that California also produces, there were some significant concerns with Mexico. But California was in the frying pan, but Florida was in the fire during the NAFTA negotiations.

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7 Mansfield: So the Western Growers Association was in opposition to the NAFTA? Stuart: Well, yeah, I think over all you can say that. I think what we were trying to do at the time in California was to strike the best deal we possibly could in the negotiations. [Consi dering] the fact that at the time, it was apparent to us that it was unlikely we would be able to exempt ourselves from the negotiations. The idea was to get as long a phase in period for the individual items as humanly possible. [This] would allow the in dustry time to make whatever adjustments where needed in order to keep ourselves competitive with the people south of the boarder. Mansfield: And what did you all do try and effect legislation? Who do you go to negotiate? Stuart: It wasnt so much effec ting legislation. It was just simply working with the US Trade Representatives office and the Department of Agriculture, essentially those who were sitting down and negotiating the agreement, to craft the best possible package that we could. That involved trying to extend the phase out period. During all of these negotiations, the way they work (and this really came true the NAFTA) is that there are a series of baskets that each individual item would fall into. The baskets were (well use letters) A woul d be immediate phase out of the tariffs. B would be intermediate phase out, of five years. C would be a longer term phase out at ten years. And in the case of NAFTA they had a category called C+ which was over ten years, And there were some items, i ncluding Florida citrus, that were included in a fifteen year phase out that was structured somewhat differently. Most of the commodities and their had a straight line phase out. Some of these C+ categories had more of a waterfall effect. The tariffs e ssentially maintained a level plane over a period of time (say for ten to twelve years) but then at the twelfth year it fell off precipitously, to zero. Thats kind of where we are with Florida citrus.

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8 Mansfield: You said you worked with the trade represe ntatives and the Department of Agriculture? Stuart: Right. Mansfield: Could you go into more detail about that? Stuart: Obviously, there are people assigned, within the trade representatives office and the USDA and they work together as a team, to sit down with their counter parts. In the case of NAFTA, with their counterparts form Mexico, to sit down and workout the minutia of those agreements. Then as that process evolves, those base line types of discussions tend to bubble up in the process until the y get to the sub ministerial level. This would be administrators or people in the assistant secretary level, or assistant trade [representative] level. Finally, after a number of years, it bubbles up all the way to the top and the minister office, which w ould be our US Trade Representative and Secretary of Agriculture and the Minister of Trade in Mexico. In the case of NAFTA, chief negotiators have to sit down and look at the whole package and essentially made a determination and whether or not the agreeme nt, as negotiated is the best deal that they could get. At that point in time, if the administration of each country believes that they got a deal that makes sense recognizing that in any agreement youre going to have some people that will fare better th an others you take it and present it to Congress and hope that theyll approve it. Mansfield: So thats how the system works. But Id be more interested in knowing what you all did. Who did you approach? What did you say to them? More of a hands on Stua rt: W ell you have to take a step back and determine what products are going to be effected most severely. You cant just take a shotgun approach at the process and say that everything at the end of the day is going to be negatively effected. You really hav e to ratchet it down to the point where you [ask] Where a re our real problems? Then you got to go back and develop the economic arguments that backup the case your trying to

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9 make. Thats working with the people at you land grant [universities], private ec onomists and even working within the Department of Agriculture, with their economic group. And the International Trade Commission plays a legislatively mandated role in that, looking at how these agreements would effect individual products, whether its in agriculture or [manufacturing]. Thats their job, to look specifically at how these agreements would affect individual commodities. You kind of aggregate that all together and walk into the Department of Agriculture, or the US Trade Representatives Offic e and say, Look, if we do this, if we take these tariffs to zero, this is the type of displacement were going to have in the US. [Whatever the item might be, tomatoes, or citrus, in terms of the loss of production, loss of self sufficiency it really ma kes sense for the US to maintain production of those items. This insures we have a domestic supply of those products.] Not to mention the other impacts to rural economies and that type of time, whether they be in California and Arizona, or Texas of Florida or where ever those items happen to be produced. They tend not to be produced in Miami or Tampa. They tend to be produced in fairly rural areas around the state. So thats the case you have to make. Quite frankly, those cases are weighed against other c ases that are presented. They are also weighed against the cases presented by the other country. Thats the challenge the negotiators have, is sitting down and taking all of that input and saying, Okay, what is it we really have to workout here? What do w e have to give up in the process, in order to obtain our goals? Whether its Mexico on a bilateral basis, or the whether hits the entire world on Doha or Uruguay Round basis. Mansfield: When I interviewed Mr. Bouis he talked about attempting to organiz e different grower organizations to unite in opposition to this part of NAFTA. What do you know about that? Stuart: There certainly was an effort to bring folks together. There was a moderate amount of cooperation, but quite frankly, with in the fruit and vegetable sector in the US, agreements affect different people in different ways.

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10 For example, the apple industry was very much a proponent of NAFTA, because, number one, they had no tariffs and number two, they saw a tremendous market potential in Mexic o. At that time there was essentially a prohibition on US apples moving into Mexico. They saw that as very much an opportunity. So, you know when you have competing interests within an industry sector like that, it makes unity pretty darn difficult. With in your spectrum you have your poles, so you have a couple here at opposite ends. Then in the middle you got a whole bunch of other folks. In order to have unity you got to focus in one area. And fortunately it tends to be towards the middle, because your e never going to get [the extremes to come together]. Sometimes its pretty tough to get people at the [extremes] to even walk an inch towards the middle. That was the challenge we had, from an organizational or logistical standpoint, of trying to bring d isparate interests to the table, within an industry. That led to some of Franks frustration. Because he tried to identify some folks he felt should all feel the same way. But even in Western Growers there were disparate interests, in terms of what threats or opportunities NAFTA presented. Again, for Florida it was all one way way. It was coming in this direction. There was really no reciprocal opportunities in Mexico that would mitigate their opposition to the agreement. Whereas in California, Texas, the northwest and other areas [they perceived] at least enough opportunity there to have a dampening effect on the hard line opposition in the agreement. Mansfield: I just want to make sure I understand you correctly. Certain sectors of the industry saw oppor tunities in approving NAFTA? Stuart: [Nods his head: affirmative.] Mansfield: Which sectors of the industry were they? Stuart: A lot of the tree fruit folks saw opportunity down there, apples, deciduous fruits. You know Mexico doesnt grow a lot of peac hes, pears and nectarines. So there was an opportunity there, to some degree; and still is in Mexico. One of the biggest frustrations

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11 for the Californian deciduous fruit industry, some eleven years after the agreements been in place, they are still wrangl ing with Mexico in getting fruit into the country. We still cant get citrus into Mexico from Florida, despite the fact that there is some opportunity for fresh citrus in Mexico, from Florida. So some of those frustrations exist. But having said that, te n, twelve years ago, there were barriers that existed were tariff related. NAFTA was an opportunity to remove some of those tariffs. In California, you also had folks that were farming on both sides of the boarder. That has a mitigating impact, because you re not totally united from the standpoint if you had tomato producers in California that are growing tomatoes in the winter time in Mexico and in the spring, summer and fall in California. That Mexico production is part of their year round production capa bility. It is very important to them. Removing an 8% to 10% tariff equivalent, ad valorem equivalent was something that was attractive to them. That had a dampening effect. Mansfield: Okay. Now well jump from California and the Western Growers Associatio n to here in Florida. Stuart: Sure. Mansfield: I know that the Mexican citrus has not affected Florida citrus, as people originally thought. They tell me that the Mexicans dont have the infrastructure to export citrus here. But what about, the other f ruits and vegetables, like tomatoes? Stuart: Well, Ill still make a case for citrus. Because as I mentioned to you earlier, I dont think the final chapter in that book has been written. There was and still is a very precipitous fall in the tariff that w ill occur on FCOJ [Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice] in single strength juice coming in from Mexico. The fifteen year agreement started in 2004. The real precipitous fall in that tariff doesnt start occurring, really until this year and next year. Then it falls off dramatically until it hits zero. So that significant tariff has still been there. And it is a significant tariff on FCOJ and single strength juice coming in from anywhere (Brazil, Mexico, where ever it happens to be coming from).

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12 So whether or not that tariff reduction, from an economic standpoint will provide some economic incentive for Mexico to go out and upgrade and improve their infrastructure for grove development, maintenance and processing improvements, remains to be seen. I havent wri tten that threat off. I personally still think its out there. Now there are lot of people who are a lot smarter than I am, on the subject. But if you just look at the veneer of the issue, with the way the NAFTA agreement was structured on citrus, its wor ked as it was intended to. It was designed to extend that pain as far out as possible. Will the pain ultimately come? I dont think we know. It hasnt yet, but as I said, I dont think that chapter has been written yet. Mansfield: Okay, but I mentioned to matoes and other vegetables because one man I interviewed mentioned a lot of the vegetables grown around Lake Okeechobee werent being grown there any more, because they had been replaced by Mexican vegetables. Stuart: What specifically was he mentioning? Mansfield: Tomatoes. Stuart: Tomatoes havent been grown around Lake Okeechobee in twenty or thirty years. Mansfield: Well that might explain it. Okay, lets get back to Florida citrus and the threat, Mexico, thats coming. But [the threat from thre at from removing the Brazilian tariff] seems to be whats concerning people now. Stuart: Yeah, cause Brazil is the eight hundred pound gorilla of the citrus industry, worldwide. It is significantly bigger than the Florida industry in term of the number of boxes produced. It is a huge looming threat out there, no question. It is probably the darkest cloud that hangs over the Florida citrus industry.

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13 Youve got a problem with canker in the state right now. But in the longer term, I think were going to be at the canker thing. Whether or not we can keep our finger in the dike with Brazil remains to be seen. Mansfield: Well what is Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association doing to influence affect legislation? Stuart: Well theres an effort being coordinated actually through Florida Citrus Mutual, that is trying to bring the citrus industry together. And it has brought the citrus industry together, to specifically hold on to that tariff in the FTAA negotiations. Essentially the objective is to exempt citrus from the agreement. There is a historical precedent for exempting certain items from agreements in the past. And given the competitive nature of the Brazilian industry and the Florida industry, were really talking about two states here. The Brazilian ind ustry is really concentrated in a very, very few hands. Their production costs, going back to the discussion we had earlier, are from a labor standpoint, a fraction of what they are here in Florida. Which is problematic. So as a result, think there is a go od economic argument out there for maintaining that tariff and maintaining a viable industry here in Florida. Otherwise, if the tariff goes away, I think the studies have pretty well show that the face of the Florida citrus industry [will] change dramatic ally, over a period of time; until were not much of citrus player anymore and Brazil essentially has a monopolistic position in the world orange juice market. If the objective of these agreements is to enhance competition to benefit consumers, in this pa rticular case a good case has been made that it will have the opposite effect. But if you havent talked to Andy LaVigne, at Florida Citrus Mutual, you need to. Andy is the quarter back on that activity and were one of the spokes in the wheel. Were worki ng with the industry to do that, but hes the quarterback. (To mix my metaphors.) Mansfield: [laughs] Well tell me what you all are doing. What is this spoke doing?

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14 Stuart: Well, what were doing is obviously cooperating in that process. But weve got th is organization is very, very diverse in term of the commodities we represent. We represent the vegetable industry in the state. Weve got a significant citrus membership. Weve got sugar cane producers that are members of the organization, tropical fruit, sod and a number of other commodities. So, its always a challenge for us when these agreements are negotiated, because weve got so many hats to wear for different groups. It makes it very, very challenging. Our objective here, as it is with all agreeme nts, is to try and work with the negotiators as good a foundation in these agreements as we possibly can. So that when it comes to individual commodities theyve got the ability to go in and make their individual cases. Mansfield: Youve said you represen ted many groups, from sod and sugar cane, how do you Im trying to think of the best way to put this question Stuart: I think I know where youre headed. Most of those groups have individual organizations that really carry the banner for their individual tariffs or aspects that are specific to their organizations. Its tough for use to do that. We do it in some cases, simply because there are no other groups out there doing it for them. But again, our the majority of our efforts have to be focused on the broader issues within these agreements in terms of their over all structure and what they call modalities the structure of the negotiations and how they fit. Then working with them to advance the cause of individual commodity positions, whether its orange juice or tomatoes, or tropical fruit, or whatever the issue happens to be. Mansfield: But you talked about, and worked with the Western Growers Association, how the apple people were in favor of NAFTA and some of the fruit and vegetable people were leery of it others had interests in Mexico. Stuart: Right. Mansfield: How does that compare with

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15 Stuart: Its very similar, very similar. What we did at Western Growers, back in during the NAFTA and Uruguay Round negotiations was, again, to try and build th at solid foundation. So that you did have a tariff reduction structure, that for highly sensitive products allowed for as long a phase out as is possible, within the confines of the negotiations. To try and develop some kind of a safeguard that would provi de some interim help for commodities that needed it. We still havent gotten there on that issue. Thats still something that I fervently believe remains to be developed. But weve got that typical square peg were trying to fit into a round hole. It just doesnt work. But thats something that were working on. The good news with that is, I think we probably have more support in some of the lessor developed countries as well as in developed countries, like Japan and to a lessor extent, Europe. [They] see the needs for those kinds of special safeguards for seasonal and highly perishable types of products. Mansfield: But here in Florida, is there anyone who would like to see the tariff removed? Stuart: In citrus? Mansfield: Or in fruits and vegetables in general. Stuart: For FTAA, if they are out there I dont know who they are. Mansfield: How do you enlist the fruit and vegetable people, who arent citrus [growers] into supporting this program to keep the tariff in place? Stuart: Well, you cant. In th ose respects each commodity group has to carry their own water. For the most part, youre not going to get the citrus guys to carry the vegetable industrys water and vice versa. Now if there is a commonality to the issue, where you can link those up, then yes there is an opportunity to go out and do that. But idea of the vegetable guys going up to Washington and sitting down and arguing for the maintenance

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16 of the citrus tariff, thats pretty unlikely. Theyre not going to do it. And there is no reason for them to do it. For that matter, there is not much creditability in doing it either. If I was a [trade] negotiator and some vegetable guy came in suggested that they not eliminate the citrus tariff, Id have to ask the question, Why are you concerned abou t it? Hows that going to effect your business. Mansfield: I asked that question because the other people Ive interviewed have talked about trying to contact individual representatives in the congress and senate and trying to sway them to their way of t hinking. So in order to build a large front of growers, they tried to enlist folks as allies. So I was curious about Stuart: Yeah, but lets face it, youre not going to spend your political capital unless there is going to be value in it for you. There h as got to be some threat or benefit coming back to the individual to motivate them to do that. You got tot find out what that is. And if it is out there, sure you can try and convince them to make that argument. At the end of the day, for the members of th e delegation, or more broadly the congress, its all about votes. Unless youve got critical mass of support for your case, youre not going to get very fare in the process. Theres twenty five members of the Florida delegation that are out there, that ar e potentially allies. You got to talk to everyone of those offices. You got to stay with them, answer any questions they may have and be as believable as humanly possible in making those arguments. If you throw a bunch of garbage out there, eventually they are going to see it for what it is. Your ability to hold on to them is going to be pretty marginal. You got to make a good creditable case, you just cant throw them a bunch of fluff. Mansfield: So how does Florida Fruit and Vegetable association build a creditable case? Stuart: Well you got to go back and do the economic work. Youve got to have a solid case for what youre trying to do. And in the case of the citrus industry and FTAA I think that case has been made very, very well.

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17 Mansfield: What do you think will happen if the tariff is repealed? Stuart: Well, I youre better off talking to the economists at the University of Florida or elsewhere on that. Theyve done the modeling on that. Guys like Tom Spreen and others can sit down and give you that kind of information. Again, I think over time the differences in production costs will results in lower returns and on a pounds per solid basis and thats going to erode the economic viability of the industry. Whether that happens in one year or five years, or fifteen or twenty years again thats something for the economists. Ive seen whats happened with the vegetable industry in Florida. After NAFTA passed, some remarkable things happened. There was a significant devaluation of the Peso, which crea ted a tremendous advantage for Mexico in exporting vegetables here. It came in, in a big, big way. It came in at very low prices. Prices that were profitable for producers in Mexico because of the exchange differences. They were picking up dollars in retur n for what they were shipping. It hurt a lot of small tomato growers her e in the state. The reason we dont have a lot of small tomato growers here in Florida is because the only way they could survive is improve their economy of scale. And so now youve got a few big players and virtually no small growers. The small growers that are out there are aligned with and economically dependant upon the larger grower shipper marketing organizations. Mansfield: So theres been a concentration of tomato growers? S tuart: Definitely. You know we used to count them in the hundreds, now we count them in the dozens. Mansfield: What do you see as the future for Florida citrus? Stuart: It all depends on what happens with Brazil. It depends on what happens with cankers. Ands it depends on what happens with how many people keep moving into the

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18 state of Florida. You know there are a lot variables in the equation. I dont know. Depending on which day of the week it is, which hat do you want me to put on? I can argue just abo ut anybody can argue the case in different ways. As far as the canker issue is concerned there is a road map there. As long as we can keep funds coming and keep the issue out of the courts, there is a road map to solve that problem. If we can maintain th e tariff I think there is a road map there that over time insures that youve got a healthy, vital, viable industry. The urban pressure, you know is a question. You look at parts of the state now; youre seeing golf course communities pop up in. Ten or fi fteen years ago people didnt think that would happen in a hundred years. Here we are a decade or so later and they are showing up. You just never know. Florida is a very attractive state; from a real estate stand point. There are still a lot of people mov ing here. Theres that pressure along the coast and as its density increases it forces people inland. Thats where you get into some of the prime citrus and vegetable growing areas. All you have to do is drive down the east coast, starting in southern Brev ard County and Indian River County. All the way down to Palm Beach and Broward County [youll] see whats going on in real estate in Florida; the conflict that is there, in terms of land use, between agriculture and development. In many cases them is u s. If youve got an orange grove or a grapefruit grove that is a producing asset. Ultimately the question has to be asked is that asset producing as much as a grapefruit grove as it would as a strip mall or a housing development? Thats a decision only a landowner can make. So those pressures are here and they are mounting. I think at the end of the day thats where the biggest competition comes from, all else being equal. Mansfield: Ive had several people comment on the pressure to sell. Barren grove s are now going for as much as productive groves. Stuart: Its all about the land. Mansfield: What are you hearing from your constitutes, about pressure from development and the threat of

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19 Stuart: Here again, it depends on who you talk to. This years be en unique because of the impact of the three hurricanes. But last year, if you walked around and talked to folks down in the Indian River [area], it might be crass to say, but the market was so bad those walking around with a smile on their face were the o nes with a land deal going on. Those who were somber were those who were relying on the grapefruit to pay the bills. Again, thats changed this year; there isnt any grapefruit to ship, because of the storms. So everybody is a dark mood. But there are stil l folks doing land deals. I dont think the pressure on that is going to subside. Its just going to intensify all of the time. What the long term impact of the storms are, remains to be seen. Quite frankly, I think whats going to happen is youre going to see some marginal producing groves, some older groves, that might have some disease or pest pressure it may make sense, at this point in time, to do something else with that ground. And to the degree that, that happens it can change the economics of th e grapefruit business. But thats not a one or two year process. That has a longer horizon, its hard to say. Mansfield: That brings up another question, talking about the smaller growers and the large growers. What are you hearing from the large growers and the small growers? Are you hearing the same arguments, different arguments? Stuart: Well, you know a large integrated citrus operation is going to have different challenges than a small grower who just may own fifteen to twenty acres. Thats not thei r line of business. Theyre just an investor and thats what they own. It goes through a packing house and then from that packinghouse to a processor, or going straight to a processor. So the challenges are all different, depending on the size and what th ey are growing and whether its going to fresh or the processed market. But a small citrus grower, if hes got good variety, can get a return [End Tape 1, Side A. Begin Tape 1, Side B.] Stuart: on that investment. He certainly could this year, parti cularly in grapefruit, if they happen to be in the right place. But again this was a unique situation. A lot of small

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20 growers in oranges for processing, particularly in some early mid and other varieties have been struggling. Those guys are having a tough time. Its hard to look at that investment and argue that its really returning what you could get doing something else with [that land]. In some cases you dont have much choice, because there is a lot of development going on. But thats changing. Mansfi eld: Like I said, some people are just waiting for the right offer to come along. But you talked earlier about working with Florida Citrus Mutual. Tell me more about the lobbying efforts of Florida Fruit and Vegetable. Stuart: On what? Mansfield: On the FTAA. Stuart: Well, again, were a member of the team. To the degree that we need to get up and through our efforts talk to some folks in Washington. We have in the past and will do that in the future. But, again, were part of the team when it comes to citrus and the FTAA. Were not leading the charge. So we do not go up independently of what that joint effort would do and lobby either the Administration or Congress. It would be part of a coordinated effort. Mansfield: So you follow the lead of Citrus Mutual? Stuart: Well, on that issue, yeah. It doesnt do us any good to have a bunch of chiefs I mane somebodys got to be the quarterback for citrus in that effort and thats Citrus Mutual. I think weve all identified them as the group to do that. Ma nsfield: Well is Andy LaVigne the quarterback? Stuart: Yeah.

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21 Mansfield: Well, Ill have many, many questions when it is time to talk with him. Ive been throwing questions at you for the past hour, is there anything you want to comment on that I havent asked about? Stuart: No. I think weve pretty much covered the waterfront. Again, the process of negotiating these agreements has gotten incredibly complex. If I look back at what was involved ten or fifteen years ago, twenty years ago it seemed complex at the time [laughs] but it was really pretty straightforward. Now, with just the multitude of different things that are going on you could spend (and people do) all your time doing nothing but monitoring these agreements and providing input to the Adminis tration and Congress about the impact or potential impact of those agreements on their respective industries. When youve got something going on at the WTO level and these huge regional bilateral agreements and these individual bilateral things which tend to bubble up. What you see happen with these bilateral agreements tends to bubble up to the larger agreements. You cant just worry about the big picture youve got to focus on the smaller deals too. Something could happen there that could become the foun dation for a larger agreement latter on. You ve got to stay on top of it. The other thing is, Congress is playing a much more intensive role than they have in the past as these agreements develop. It used to be theyd wait until it showed up on their doorste p. But now members of Congress, on both sides, are weighing in and weighing in very strongly with the way they thing things ought to be done. You know, they cant meddle and get involved with the negotiations themselves but the can certainly have conversat ions with people at senior levels at he US Trade Representatives office or at the USDA. They tell them what they think, whether its about Florida citrus or sugar whatever it happens to be. The good news about that is the Administration, generally, t hat kind of a process leads to an agreement that is ultimately going to be more acceptable to the Congress. But in the case of CAFTA, even with that, its evident at this point in time, the Administration doesnt have the votes to get that one passed. They are going to have to do something somewhere, on one of these sticking points (a major one is sugar) in order to get that one

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22 over the hump and get it passed. Because right now it doesnt look like theyve got the votes to get it done. Mansfield: Weve bee n talking about I guess Ive been citrus centric in this. Everybody Ive been talking to has been working in citrus. But who do you see as Stuart: In the FTAA the target is squarely on the citrus industrys back. On NAFTA although there is a lot of atten tion paid to citrus and sugar, the real vulnerability out there was vegetables. It really was. The vegetable industry, because of the nature of production systems, here in Florida and in Mexico, there were no other eight hundred pound gorillas out there, ot her than Mexico. Mansfield: So you think NAFTA has adversely affected Floridas vegetable production? Stuart: Definitely. Its transformed the industry. Its chased the small grower out of the state. A lot of them have gone out of business. We still hav e a large volume of tomatoes and peppers and other commodities being produced in Florida. But its only because of the tenacity and the aggressive posture taken by the industry, to try and maintain and retake market share, after the agreement was passed. In the year or two leading up to NAFTA the market share for Florida tomatoes in the wintertime was about 60% to 65%. But two to three years after that agreement was passed it was 30% for the winter market. There were a whole bunch of things that contribute d to that, but NAFTA was one of them. One of the things that NAFTA did that people dont pay a lot of attention to is the fact that it encouraged a tremendous amount of investment into sectors of Mexican agriculture that were export oriented. In fact Mexi co was looking for that. A lot that investment came from inside Mexico, from non traditional sources. At about that time one of the biggest tobacco companies in Mexico invested heavily in Mexicos tomato business. [They wanted to] increase acreage and ship ping tomatoes to the US. All of that happened at the same time NAFTA came on line. Then you had the depreciation, or devaluation of the Peso, of 40% or more. So it just cascaded into an

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23 avalanche of [tomatoes] coming in from Mexico which decimated the ind ustry. It has taken the industry a lot of years to recover. But thats all cyclical. This business is not only cyclical in the medium or long term but its cyclical in the individual seasons. Its a very volatile business. A 2% or 3% increase in supply ca n have disastrous impacts on the market place. Mansfield: Supply is down, the price is up so people produce a lot. Then Stuart: It goes in the tank. The funny thing is, its predictable. Weve gotten to the point now [where] youve got this global appr oach to agricultural production. Just looking at the tomato market in the US, youve got the US production and Mexican production, which is significant. Up in Canada and Europe and now in Mexico, youve got all these hothouse tomatoes. Its all generated t o provide a consistent supply of tomatoes twelve months out of the year. Well th i s industry has always made money on the shoulders, the peaks and valleys of th at production curve. You don t make money at peak production you make money on the shoulders, either com ing up or going down. So when you loose those shoulders the pro fitability of the industry flattens out as well. If y o u flatten it out at a point where the profit is less t han the cost of production you got to find wa ys to save per unit costs, otherwise you r e g oing out of bus i n ess Those who have done that successfull y are the ones who have survived. M a n sfield : Who is the opposition looking t o remove the tariff ? Obviously the Brazilians are, but [who else]? Stuart: I t s the B r azilians They stand to gain. It s market access to the US at a lower cost. It would significantl y reduce their costs. They re the benefi ciaries, to the degree that there are interests in the US that are interested in moving th e FTAA forward and the citrus tariff issue is seen as an obstacle They are the opposition also, because they want to remove t hat obst a c le. The trick is to convin c e them that removing the obstacle is by exempting the pro duct from the negotiations. The difficulty t here is convincing t he

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24 Brazilians to do that. It s a big climb. Also trying t o convince the pe ople at the White House and the US Trade Represent ative s office that it s o kay have an agreem e nt that doe s n t include 100% of every tariff line item that the US has. Mansfield: Can you think of peo ple who want FTAA to come through and aren t concerned about citrus, the ones in the Uni ted States. Stuart: Oh there is a whole bunch o f people that want the FTAA to move through. There i s a bunch of people in Florida that want t h e FTAA to go through. There is a very strong business l obby that is focused on the relationship betw een C entral and South America and the state o f Florida, in terms of two way trade. They want this in an awful way. One of their goals is to establish the FTAA secretariat in Miami and have Miami serve as the hub of t he Western Hemisphere for trade and commerce. So all of tha t is at play, here in Florida, while all this is going on. Here again is to try and develop an alliance or partnership with those folks, to allow them to achieve their goal and at the same time preserve Florida s citrus industry. Mansfield: Wh e n you say a business can you be more specific than that? Stuart: I don t think ther e is a business lobby in the state from the C hamber of C ommerce to A ssociated I ndustries all of them, that aren t supportive of the FTAA. M a n sfield: How about outsi de of Florida? Stuart: T he US Chamber of Commerce Mansfield: But no specific industries? Stuart: Virtually every industry. The labor unions are against it, because of the jobs issue. But virtually every business conglomeration and group in the country is supportive of FTAA.

PAGE 26

25 M a n sfield: So management is for it and labor is against it? Stuart: Essentially M a n sfield: The one question I didn t ask you wh e n I started and this is a question I ask everybody I in terview, describe your current occupation. St uart: Sure, I m the president and c hief op e rating officer, the full time staff executive We have a chairman and chief executive offi cer who is a producer. They serve two year terms, but they are voluntary leaders. They are not compensated. Mansfield: O kay. So in your pos i tion, what do you do? Stuart: As president ? M a n sfield: As pres ident. Stuart: I over see the day to day op e rati o n of the association I over see our lobbying activities, our lab or and environmental services and so forth C onsulting f unctions that we have here are communications. We also have a subsidiary tha t provides third party administrative services for a large insurance company that s be en tied with the organization for a number of ye ars. Basically I m over seeing all of that. M a n sfield: Do you think it would be possible for m e to t alk to your lobbyi st, to find out how they go about lobbying? Stuart: On this issue? Mansfield : [ N ods his head : affirmative .]

PAGE 27

26 Stu a r t: Here again whe n w e lo b by on this, I don t have my lobbyist in DC working on this specific issue. Andy La Vigne is the guy to talk to on that. If they want us to go in and talk with someone we cer tainly will. We re re ady willing and able to do that But that s all in A ndy LaVigne s shop. H e s the guy responsible for tha t. M a n sfield : Okay I hope I have enough time to get him to ans wer these question s for me. Stuart: Well, you need to if this is what the project s all about If you don t talk to him you re going t have a big hole in your information. Mansfield: Well, w e re trying to talk to everyone f r o m the growers to Andy LaVigne to some politicians Stuart: If you re going to talk to someon e you need to talk t o Adam Putnam. M a n sfield: Adam Putnam? He s the Stuart: He represents Florida Twelfth C o ngressional dis trict. Polk County. Mansfield: The man I talked to yesterday was having supper with him. Stuart: Well I was sup posed to have dinner with Adam last night, but it was just too long a day. I saw him for a little bit and came home. Mansfield: Did you talk t o him about this issue? Stuart: W eve talked numerous times about t h is iss u e. Mansfield: Can you share with me what you talked about? Stuart: He knows more about it than I do. He s a citrus grower.

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27 Mansfield: I d just be curious to know to get some [id ea] of the interaction b etween you and him about what you said and his response Stuart: At this point in time it s tactical. It s a tactical discussion. It s not a philosophical discussion. Adam Putnam is a Florida citrus g rower. His family has been grow ing citrus for generations. He is fully supportive of the e ffort to try and preserve that tariff. So any discussion I have with him is just merely ta c t i c al, to see what s happening I don t know what I could share with you that would be instructive at this point Mansfield: Just some of the personal interaction that s often missing from the historical record. Stuart: I don t know. Again, here Adam is engaged, as engag ed as anybody in project [can be]. It is something that directly affects him an d a lot of the people in his district So he is taking a very strong leadership ro le in dealing with that. He s part of the process. Mansfie l d: Okay. That sounds like a good place to stop. Stuart: Okay. Mansfield: But I should remind you again that this informat ion will be deposited in the Special Collections of the University Library and we need your permission for researchers to have access to it. Stuart: That s fine. No problem. M a n sfield : W ell l et me turn this thing off. [End of interview.]


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