3. Tomato suspension agreement under fire

12/28/2012 12:37:00 PM
Fred Wilkinson

Imports of greenhouse tomatoes from Mexico have risen sharply in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About one-quarter of the 949,000 metric tons of Mexican tomatoes imported into the U.S. in 2007 were labeled greenhouse grown. In 2011, that number was 39% of 1.32 million metric tons.

Certified Greenhouse Farmers, Fresno, Calif., took its case to the California Department of Food and Agriculture on Oct. 9, testifying for a proposed amendment defining hydroponic greenhouse produce.

Oct. 29
Mexican growers propose higher tomato floor prices
By Coral Beach, Staff Writer

Mexican growers have proposed a compromise to raise the floor price of tomatoes exported to the U.S., pre-empting a decision by the Commerce Department, which has tentatively decided to drop the 16-year-old agreement that set the initial price.

Representatives for Mexican growers met with Commerce Department officials and proposed boosting the floor price of imported Mexican tomatoes 18% to 25%, depending on tomato variety. The Oct. 18 meeting also included a proposal to bring all Mexican growers into the agreement, which currently covers about 85% of them.

Martin Ley, vice president of Nogales, Ariz.-based Del Campo Supreme Inc., was among the delegation meeting with U.S. officials. He told The New York Times after the meeting that the proposal would prevent prices from “hitting the floor.”

Specific details of the proposal remain confidential among those involved in negotiations about the tomato suspension agreement. Commerce Department officials did not return calls for comment.

Reggie Brown, executive director of the Florida Tomato Exchange, said Oct. 19 that he hadn’t seen the proposal but heard about it in media reports. However, he said Florida growers believe the trade agreement was fundamentally flawed from the beginning.

Dec. 10
Review set for tomato agreement
By Tom Karst, National Editor

With talks to resolve escalated trade tensions between Mexican and U.S. tomato growers still alive, the U.S. government is initiating a review of the existing suspension agreement.

The sunset review by the U.S. International Trade Commission was publicized in the Dec. 3 Federal Register, but the date was set years ago as part of the agreement’s five-year review, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.


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