U.S.-Mexico tomato deal looks dead - The Packer

U.S.-Mexico tomato deal looks dead

09/27/2012 11:54:00 AM
Tom Karst

See related article: Mexico tomato interests look to keep agreement.

(UPDATED COVERAGE, Sept. 28) The tomato suspension agreement between Mexican tomato growers and the U.S. appears to be doomed, potentially opening up new trade frictions between the two countries.

Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz., said the importing community in Nogales was shocked about the decision, which the group said was possibly motivated by political interests in favor of the Obama administration.

The Department of Commerce announced a preliminary decision September 27 to terminate the suspended antidumping investigation, effectively killing the 16-year-old suspension agreement.

In August, the Department of Commerce said it would take comments on a request by Florida tomato interests to terminate the suspension agreement, which has governed the price of imported Mexican tomatoes since 1996. The Department of Commerce must announce a final decision by late April but could move sooner.

“I think the fact that groups like Wal-Mart, (the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have weighed in certainly puts the Department of Commerce on notice that everyone is watching,” Jungmeyer said.

Jungmeyer said there are 350,000 jobs in Mexico that rely on the tomato export industry, and Mexico takes its number one export to the U.S. very seriously.

The Department of Commerce is seeking comments on the preliminary results until 15 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which was expected to be Sept. 28.

Florida tomato industry leaders were pleased with the news.

“Our preference would have been for a final ruling as opposed to a preliminary ruling, but we appreciate the challenge the Commerce had in sorting through the various filings that have come forward,” said Reggie Brown, vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, Maitland, Fla.

Brown said the withdrawal of the suspension would put in place a free market where there would be no restrictions on Mexican imports — but the Florida tomato industry will “exercise trade laws” if it perceives dumping is occurring, as it did when seeking the original 1996 ruling.

Jungmeyer said Florida leaders have promised to pursue anti-dumping actions, but there are problems with trying to prove dumping when Mexican producers have been complying with the price suspension agreement with the U.S. for years.

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texas  |  September, 27, 2012 at 07:11 PM

The Florida Tomato Cartel...insuring the Five Families of the Florida Tomato Mafia make New York's Families look like amateurs....

Nogales Az  |  September, 27, 2012 at 08:21 PM

The boat is sinking, and the drowning are kicking. This tomato issue has been going on since 1887 http://www.tomatogardeningguru.com/history.html http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=149&invol=304 Very interesting to watch who will really benefit from this, and how the DOC chooses to acknowledge or ignore the bloodline of commerce: the end consumer.

AZ  |  September, 28, 2012 at 09:17 AM

Hooray for the politicization of our nations food supply! Everyone is eager to fight terrorism abroad, but when Florida tomato producers hijack our nations food supply it's not terrorism, it's politics. Food security is national security and these Florida tomato producers care only about themselves, not the large number of US consumers who are being harmed by their greed.

Tomato Lover    
AZ  |  September, 28, 2012 at 10:38 AM

I guess we will just have to do without tomatoes for the remainder of the winter the next time Florida freezes.

Marv Fritz    
O'Neill NE  |  September, 28, 2012 at 10:40 AM

The cost of American regulation alone for at least Greenhouses is approaching 25-30% of the summer priced tomatoes coming across the border. And that is increasing by the year. Do you really want to completely turn your food supply over to another country? That's what we are doing. I think that would be a mistake.

Texas  |  September, 28, 2012 at 10:51 AM

I guess you feel it better to have the Florida Taliban setting prices every tuesday behind closed doors....

September, 28, 2012 at 03:11 PM

The last time Florida growers screwed the Mexican Tomato growers, the apple category suffered the burden of retaliatory dumping tariffs. The apple growers will again pay for Florida insanity.

MICH  |  September, 28, 2012 at 03:46 PM

we should support our own farmers instead of the mexicans

Nogales  |  September, 28, 2012 at 04:01 PM

Unfortunately your own farmers can't cover the American demand therefore you need us "mexicans" as you so call them.

NogalesAz  |  September, 28, 2012 at 04:54 PM

If I was a Florida grower I would also be clawing like a cat that's trying to be thrown into a river,but the tide cannot be stopped by those who choose to live on the waterfront. Who's to stop Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador or Cuba from doing tomato business with the USA? Simple laws of supply, demand & protectionism under CAPITALISM; If foreign product cannot come in to the states due to a prohibitly workable tariff, it will be very interesting to see the retailers association's response and pressure, needless to say the other 'sectors' reversing this act if it even reaches the Florida Grower's illusion. This reminds me of a movie I once saw: 'Whatcha got ain't nothin new. This country's hard on people, you can't stop what's coming, it ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity' 'No country for old men'

ohio  |  September, 30, 2012 at 05:12 AM

Why don't we make just Mexico a state and get this over with.

Elmer C. Mott    
Florida  |  September, 30, 2012 at 07:58 AM

To some it probably seems odd that Florida growers would ask for a suspension of an agreement that sets a minimum price for Mexican imports. On the surface it would seem that a set minimum would be good for all parties. These minimums create a false sense of security as to profits and therefore tend to cause an increase in acreage. A few years back Florida growers through the FTC adopted a resolution that imposed a minimum of 5.00 + on each box of packed tomatoes. It only took a few years to see that through market manipulation one could get around the minimum. When over production occurred because of the increase in acreage, sales teams offered incentives to buyers to move the excess product. It took only a few short years for the Florida tomato growers to realize they can not dictate consumption, and price The American consumer has a way of reminding us that it is still a supply and demand system. Thanks, E. Mott

Tommy Toes    
Florida  |  October, 01, 2012 at 04:05 PM

Raise the import minimum to reflect our US annual increases in labor and production costs in America. Never saw retail or food service prices drop on the end user; the American consumer. I did experience the wholesale tomato prices drop by 40-50% last season due to import flood. Farmers receive "maybe" $.20 of the selling dollar; the rest goes to the middlers. Brokers on the border need to know which side of the border they are on.

Wayne Lawson    
Phoenix, AZ  |  October, 01, 2012 at 04:31 PM

We shall see what happens this winter if Florida freezes again like it did 2 years ago. C'mon Mother Nature. Let's teach the greedy a lesson.

phx  |  October, 01, 2012 at 04:33 PM

We only grow and harvest about 3% of fruits and vegetable here in the UNited States. The majority of crops in the US now get turned into High Fructose Corn Syrup. You know, the stuff that makes us all fat.

Missouri  |  October, 02, 2012 at 03:16 PM


Florida  |  October, 02, 2012 at 04:42 PM

I've lived in Florida for over 30 years, & i once was a farm labor contractor for the comglomerates of Florida Tomato business. They also have warehouses in Nogales & Texas and there 3rd party brokers that buy tomatoes to cover there lack of production to keep up with the supply. They repack them put them into there trademarked fancy names and sell them to the American consumer. It's funny, the last 3 years has been the worst for Florida Farmers as thier lands have been farmed past the rotation point. This summer Florida tomatoe was being sold at $3-$6 since the crop was small and poor quality. If you look back at summer import prices this summer where at $7-$9. As you can see the comglomerates who make billions every year, dont just want a piece of the pie they want the bakery.

fl  |  October, 02, 2012 at 09:55 PM

We would have plenty of supply if they would not have started NAFTA in the first place. When Mexico pays less for labor, has no gov regulations to deal with, and spray what ever banned pesticides they feel like, they are able to ship tomatoes across the border cheaper than US growers can even produce them much less harvest, sell, and ship. Thus putting US tomato growers out of buisness, thus lowering supply. There used to be several tomato packing houses in Homestead, but do to NAFTA and Mexican growers "dumping" cheap un-inspected tomatoes on an open market there is only one left. The only way to fix this would be to level the playing feild and make Mexican tomatoes and any other vegetable coming across the border face the same regulations and inspections US growers face.

Your Conscience    
California  |  October, 06, 2012 at 08:37 AM

Yes JB, your conscience here. Remember I told you not to make an idiot of yourself in public. You know that all imported produce must meet the exact same standard as domestic goods. No " banned pesticides" on Mexican tomatoes US consumers ask for. Remember I told you to tell the truth, that import product is nine times more likely to be inspected by the FDA. The truth is that Florida growers are the ones with much less surveillance.

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