Growers defend end to Mexico agreement

11/30/2012 01:50:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Bob Spencer, vice president and sales manager of West Coast Tomato Inc., said lifting the agreement could be revealing.

In the short term, a lifting of the floor price could create some low pricing of Mexican tomatoes, which would affect Florida’s wintertime market, he said.

“It will be interesting to see how good the Mexican industry is at self-regulation,” Spencer said. “If they in fact send a flood of product in because there isn’t a suspension agreement, they will be making a case for us in a dumping lawsuit.

“We know their costs that used to be $5.28-5.30 a box are now up to more like $7-8 a box. It will be interesting to see if they ship product into the U.S. at prices lower than that. Costs don’t go up just in the U.S. A lot of the products they use come from the U.S.”

 

Hoping for peace

Chuck Weisinger, president and chief executive officer of Fort Myers-based Weis-Buy Farms Inc., said he hopes both sides work out a compromise.

“I want peace in my lifetime. I don’t want a war,” he said. “The Florida and Mexican growers need to get together and work out some kind of agreement where we’re not shooting bullets or throwing flamethrowers at another rather than going to war.

“Things have gotten to the point to where 80% of the product we have today January through March seems to come from Mexico and they have a place for what they do. The Florida farming industry has taken some bruising losses in the last five years. We need some kind of compromise where everyone can live might benefit us all.”

The Commerce Department has until May to reach a final decision on the request from the Florida growers.

Brown said he isn’t certain when the industry can expect a decision.


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