PALMETTO, Fla. (FOX 13) - For decades, Florida's farmers have watched as their community grows smaller and smaller.
Tomato growing has been passed through generations of Gary Reeder's family. Seven packing houses once called Manatee County home. Now there are only three.
"I've seen our industry basically cut in half. We can’t compete with unfair trade practices," Reeder said. "We don’t have a problem with competition at all. We have a problem with unfair competition."
Reeder says the problem is Mexico.
Congressman Vern Buchanan said the Mexican government gives its farmers illegal subsidies to grow produce and send it to the U.S. The result is underpriced produce that squeezes out American-grown crops.
You can see it at the grocery store, where Mexican produce often outnumbers fruits and vegetables grown in Florida.
"They don’t have to play by the same rules that we have to. We have much more regulation," said Reeder.
Tighter regulations and higher labor costs mean there is not much profit.
"I think [Mexico has] been taking advantage," said Congressman Buchanan.
He has proposed the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act in an effort to level the playing field for Florida's farmers.
Buchanan said he has bi-partisan support for the measure. A similar bill, backed by Sen. Marco Rubio has been introduced in the Senate.
"With our bill, that will make a big difference in dumping and unfair trade practices," said Buchanan.