Federal trade officials have determined that imported blueberries are not hurting domestic growers, denying the industry’s request for relief.

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Feb. 11 that increasing imports of blueberries from Mexico, Peru, Chile and other countries have neither threatened nor caused serious injury to domestic growers.

Blueberry industry officials said they were “disappointed” in the decision.

“The outcome of this investigation reveals deficiencies in U.S. trade laws, which unfortunately will put the long-term viability of the domestic blueberry industry in jeopardy,” according to a statement from the American Blueberry Growers Alliance.

Last year, U.S. blueberry growers asked the commission for a Section 201 investigation, arguing that the growing season in those countries overlaps with that of southern states and that imports drive down both fresh and frozen prices for all U.S. producers. A Section 201 ruling, which does not require evidence of illegal trading practices, can lead to tariffs, import limits or other remedies if harm is established.

The request triggered a political ripple among other agricultural producers. Some supported the move as evidence of the struggles of U.S. farming, while others worried it could cause retaliation from other countries.

by Ross Courtney