Presentations scheduled for January 12 will give the US International Trade Commission the material need to determine if US blueberry growers have suffered economic injury as a result of imports from Canada and other countries.
A vote on whether or not injury has occurred is scheduled for February 11.
The proceedings are being closely watched in BC, which accounts for 96% of high-bush blueberry production in Canada.
The case was discussed during the BC Blueberry Council’s annual general meeting on December 10, when members had a chance to hear from the industry’s legal representatives and ask questions regarding the process and the cost of proceedings.
The proceedings could cost industry upwards of US$1.3 million if injury is determined and further legal representation is required. Defence costs are being funded by Ottawa, provincial funding of $80,000 and industry.
A preliminary report published December 17 as part of a safeguard investigation launched last fall notes that approximately Canada shipped 40% of its fresh blueberries and 36% of its frozen blueberries to the US in 2019, a proportion that fell slightly this year.
However, growing exports from other countries, notably Mexico and Peru, have been cited as larger threats to US growers, particularly those in the southern US.
Blueberries are one of three commodities subject to investigations following a report on fruit and vegetable imports the US Trade Representative and USDA received in September. A monitoring investigation of fresh strawberries was launched in November and one targeting bell peppers followed in December.
Raspberries for processing are also under investigation, with a fact-finding report on imports and their impact on the Washington red raspberry industry set for delivery no later than June 9.