Florida growers allege Mexico's dumping tomatoes - The Packer

Florida growers allege Mexico's dumping tomatoes

09/14/2012 02:29:00 PM
Tom Burfield

“We’ve had no problem with (the suspension agreement) at all,” he said.

Several Mexican growing organizations decried the recent petition in a joint news release issued in July.

“We are disappointed,” Rosario Beltran, Commission for Research and Defense of Horticultural Products chairman for CAADES — the Confederation of Agriculture Associations of the State of Sinaloa — said in the release.

“This agreement has worked well for 16 years, bringing stability to the market and settling one of the largest bilateral trade disputes between the U.S. and Mexico,” Beltran said. “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.”

Fried DeSchouwer, president of Greenhouse Produce Co. LLC, Vero Beach, Fla., said U.S. growers are complaining that they can’t compete with their Mexican counterparts, but he said it’s not the fault of Mexican growers if U.S. growers have to use more fertilizer to treat their land or hire more expensive labor.

Some U.S. growers have complained that Mexican producers don’t have to comply with the strict food safety regulations that are in effect in the U.S., but DeSchouwer said Mexican product typically is third-party- and Global GAP-certified and also is certified locally and checked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when it is shipped to the U.S.

Chris Ciruli, a partner in Ciruli Bros., Rio Rico, Ariz., doesn’t see a need for a change in the agreement.

“We have had stability since the agreement was in place for the last 19 years,” he said. “I believe that’s a great track record.”

Both sides should keep lines of communication open, he said.

Mike Aiton, marketing director for Prime Time International, Coachella, Calif., which sources some of it product from greenhouses in Mexico, favors the suspension agreement as it stands.

“I think it’s been a good program, and one that should remain in place,” he said.

He does not expect to see changes anytime soon, he said.

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