Tomato rules concern importers

03/14/2013 06:23:00 PM
Tom Karst

(UPDATED COVERAGE, March 15) If a seminar by the U.S. Commerce Department on new rules overseeing the imports of Mexican tomatoes is an indication, importers are concerned about loopholes and exceptions to the new price structure.

About 230 people participated in the March 14 Web seminar, which was designed to educate the industry on the suspension agreement, which became effective March 4.

The U,S, Department of Agriculture’s Brian Wright and the Commerce Department’s Judy Rudman gave presentations. Rudman referred many of the questioners to the text of the agreement and other documents at the Commerce Department website. The presentations and an audio recording of the web seminar will be sent to participants and will eventually will be posted online.

After 30 minutes of presentations, Rudman took nearly an hour of questions from the Web audience. Many addressed how inspections and quality issues would affect compliance with the agreement. Other questions related to processing exceptions, sales to Canada, differences in summer and winter prices, the coverage of the agreement in Mexico and the correlation between “controlled environment” and greenhouse tomatoes.

One question was about what the Commerce Department would do if tomatoes from Mexican growers who did not sign the agreement come into the U.S. Rudman said the agreement has to cover 85% of all U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes. She said that Commerce officials monitor imports to make sure that the agreement covers at least 85% of the volume. However, U.S. law allows tomatoes from growers who haven’t signed the agreement. Those growers would not have to comply with minimum price requirements, she said, as long as those tomatoes don’t account for more than 15% of total Mexican tomato imports.

“There are references in the new agreement to actions by the Mexican government that will significantly increase the signatory coverage and ensure greater coverage of the agreement for Mexican imports,” she said.

Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, later clarified information about the 15%-85% rule.

" ... (The) comment about 85% coverage was related to existing U.S. trade standards regarding suspension agreements," Jungmeyer said. "The 100% coverage of Mexican tomato exports is enabled by the Mexican federal government. U.S. selling agents and their growers in Mexico need to make sure they are aware of these new provisions.


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Max    
Immokalee  |  March, 15, 2013 at 08:56 AM

The Proof is in the Enforcement!

jack    
Texas  |  March, 15, 2013 at 09:34 AM

Funny how all the "we built this" types ran to the government they claim they so disdain, to prevent any sort of level playing field in the tomato deal. Without this confusing, poorly written, utterly biased document, Florida would have had to face diminished sales due to a poor product and questionable sales practices. Florida's battle cry ought to be "we hate competition"...so along with enforcing this duress produced agreement Max, we should also investigate and enforce price fixing against the Florida Tomato Cartel.....That time will be coming....

Tom    
fla  |  March, 15, 2013 at 06:13 PM

This is the USA. We hold our companies a higher standard. Our workers all have a good living wage. Our workers all have running water and the same chance at life as everyone else We go to the same schools as our pickers We have restrictions on our water use We have restrictions on on our chemical use. We are made responsible for any environmental issues we cause. We don't have large drug cartels involved in our industry. Mexico can say none of these things. There is alot of good people in the Mexican tomato industry, but until they can say they follow our rules then this is the only way to level the playing field

J. Oliver--Nogales Fruit & Recycling    
Nogales Az.  |  March, 17, 2013 at 07:29 AM

what enforcement? don't forget about the "salsa" tomato made famous here in Nogales that was sold to "processors only"

PRODUCE GUY    
Texas  |  March, 19, 2013 at 06:15 AM

Very noble concepts indeed, but all unfortunately long gone. When WE invented globalization, we chose to compete with people that have very little (for the sake of cheaper goods) and thought nothing about the concequences of our actions. The chickens have come home to roost. The America that you describe is long gone and WE destroyed it! Petty attempts to level the plainfield thorugh weak laws that will be difficult to enforce will do nothing to help the industry. Change needs to come from within the produce industry and at the consumer level. If we believe (and want) the noble things you describe above, then we ALL need to vote with our dollars everytime we buy something and choose the products that support our American way of life. This is NOT about the government enacting laws, but about ALL of us as Americans supporting the companies that do things in a responsible and sustainable manner. A better way life costs money. Let's put our wallets where our mind is!!!

Tom K    
Lenexa, Ks  |  March, 19, 2013 at 09:09 AM

Transcript of Q and A session, as provided by USDA, published on Fresh Talk http://www.thepacker.com/opinion/fresh-talk-blog/USDA-transcription-of-QA-session-from-tomato-web-seminar-198846861.html Tom K

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