Mexico fires back in tomato war with Florida

07/16/2012 03:06:00 PM
Andy Nelson

(UPDATED COVERAGE, July 19) Organizations representing Mexican tomato growers say that if a 16-year suspension agreement between the U.S. and Mexico is lifted, a trade war that would hurt consumers would be the result.

In June, The Maitland-based Florida Tomato Committee filed documents with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission requesting withdrawal from a 1996 anti-dumping duty petition.

Withdrawing the anti-dumping petition would end the current suspension agreement, which sets a floor price for Mexican tomatoes exported to the U.S. The current suspension agreement is the third one put in place since the 1996 petition. 

On July 16, a joint press release from several organizations representing Mexican shippers criticized Florida’s decision, saying the suspension agreement works well.

“Tomato growers across Mexico are united in their opposition to efforts by some U.S tomato growers to bring down the agreement that has brought stability to the market for sixteen years,” according to the statement from CAADES Sinaloa, A.C.; Consejo Agrícola de Baja California, A.C.; Asociación Mexicana de Horticultura Protegida, A.C. (AMHPAC); Union Agricola Regional de Sonora Productores de Hortalizas Frutas y Legumbres; Confederacion Nacional de Productores de Hortalizas; and Mexico’s Sistema Producto Tomate.

Messages left with Mexican importers and officials were not returned.

Rosario Beltran, chairman of CAADES’ Commission for Research and Defense of Horticultural products, said in the release that lifting the suspension agreement would be bad for the U.S. and Mexico.

“If these Florida growers are successful in reigniting this trade war all over again, it will have an enormous negative impact on industries on both sides of the border and prices will increase significantly for U.S. consumers.”

Florida tomato officials and shippers claim that Mexican growers ship product at below production cost, threatening the existence of the Florida tomato industry.

Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Exchange, said that in requesting repeal of the suspension agreement, Florida growers were not violating the spirit or letter of the original law.

“We are part of a coalition that supported the original anti-dumping petition, and we are simply exercising out rights under U.S. trade law,” he said. “The suspension agreement is primarily in Mexican growers’ interests.”


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Chuck Thomas    
Nogales, AZ  |  July, 17, 2012 at 10:27 AM

How can the Dept of Commerce let a handful of individuals in one state determine what is best for one the top produce items, affecting an international industry for their own personal benefit, ignoring the possible repercussions on international trade and it's effect on all US consumers?

Jacques van der Lelij    
willcox az  |  July, 17, 2012 at 03:17 PM

What the US consumers pay has nothing to do with the tomato price at wholesale level, the stores selling for 2 to 3$ a pound we are growing for 40 and 60 cents a pound and mexico is dumping for 21 to 30 cents a pound and lower. Stores are not lowering there price, we are!!!!

Carlos Martinez    
Guadalajara, MX  |  July, 18, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Mexico is not dumping. Growers are making money because they are productive and efficient. US does the some for some of its produce, like corn and wheat. Looks like these Florida growers want the customer to pay for their inefficiencies

Edder Escobar    
Culiacan, Sin, mex  |  July, 20, 2012 at 12:45 AM

so in layman´s terms, what happens??

Humberto C. G.    
San Luis Potosi  |  July, 20, 2012 at 02:04 PM

Two ideas to think about: Social Impact (MX) and Economic Impact (U.S.) Worth it? The cost of production have a lot of variables and in my opinion it is stupid to set a sales prices and compare it with the cost of production And after this if the diference is negative say that we are dumping, bouth indicators have diferent variables. If the market is bad, the sale prices lower and production cost??= Dumping

Cristobal    
Culiacan Mexico  |  July, 20, 2012 at 04:16 PM

Is protectionism part of capitalism or is it merely a sign of of a red flag within a system to benefit a few, which cannot compete and at any rate will eventually succumb? From a farming standpoint of view and since we are in the 'absurd' stage of propositions, I would like to propose that the US policy makers also intervene with retailers so that they do lower and pass on the savings to the unwary consumers, as they are clueless as to the wholesale vs retail prices and practices that happen within the industry, this measure is far more beneficiary than any protectionist measure and would greatly benefit the end consumer & maintain the agricultural field afloat.

Jacques van der Lelij    
Willcox az  |  July, 21, 2012 at 08:09 AM

What good does it do if cooler rooms are overflowing in the winter and filled to the top to let more tomatoes in to this country? we cannot force feeding the consumer and keep selling for 21ct a # and don't forget we got our business and the retailers got theirs. Looks like there is no common sense anymore.

Bill    
Florida  |  July, 24, 2012 at 12:25 PM

everyone has missed the point. Florida Tomatoe growers are going out of bussiness because we can not use the same chemcials that have been banned in the US there for our costs go thru the roof. Mexico can produce much cheapers as the chemcials we ban the companies tht produce them move to mexico and they use them for a fraction of the costs. but bottm line Mexico is putting our farmers out of bussiness.

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