(UPDATED COVERAGE, 11:02 a.m., March 5) A new tomato suspension agreement has been signed by Mexican growers and the U.S. Department of Commerce, making proposed price increases official.
The deal, announced in a news release March 4 from the Commerce Department, was signed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Import Administration Paul Piquado.
“This agreement meets the requirements of U.S. antidumping law and provides an effective remedy for the U.S. domestic industry that protects American jobs,” Piquado said in the release.
The Commerce Department proposed the plan Feb. 2, and the signing was preceeded by comment period. The agreement sets different floor prices for Mexican fresh tomatoes during the summer and winter and also specifies prices for open field/adapted-environment and controlled-environment production.
The proposal raises minimum prices substantially, in some cases more than double the current floor price for certain products.
The previous floor prices for all Mexican tomatoes — whether grown in fields, greenhouses or shadehouses — was 21.69 cents per pound in the winter and 17.2 cents per pound in the summer.
The agreement sets new prices:
- Open-field and "adapted-environment" tomatoes are 31 cents per pound in the winter and 24.58 cents per pound in the summer.
- Controlled-environment tomatoes are 41 cents per pound in the winter and 32.51 cents per pound in the summer.
- Loose specialty tomatoes are 45 cents per pound in the winter and 35.68 cents per pound in the summer.
- Packed specialty tomatoes have minimum prices of 59 cents per pound in the winter and 46.79 cents per pound in the summer.
In a news release, Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, called the finalized agreement a win for for U.S. jobs, companies and consumers.
“We stand fully behind the Mexican growers in implementing the new tomato suspension agreement,” said Lance Jungmeyer, President of FPAA. “Their tireless efforts to maintain market access for Mexican tomatoes mean that consumers will still be able to find the quality and diversity of tomatoes that they have grown to prefer at the supermarket and in restaurants. The agreement will ensure continued stability in the tomato supply chain.”
A Commerce Department official said there were no significant changes made to the agreement proposed in February. The official said more than 600 Mexican growers and exporters signed the agreement, up from 450 growers/exporters who signed a 2008 agreement.
All fresh or chilled tomatoes from Mexico are covered by the new prices. Tomatoes imported for processing are not. The agreement accounts for changes that have occurred in the tomato industry since the signing of the original agreement in 1996, according to the release. Since then, Mexico has significantly increases greenhouse acreage.
“I’m pleased with the collaborative efforts that resulted in this agreement, which will help to maintain stability in tomato trade between the United States and Mexico,” Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez said in the release.
The original 1996 suspension agreement was updated in 2002 and 2008.