Arizona, Texas and California might be hit hardest, he said.
“On the border, the whole microeconomy revolves around the inputs from Mexico, and one of the biggest items is tomatoes,” Viramontes said. “That’s what we’re trying to tell (the Department of) Commerce.”
That’s how AMHPAC is playing defense. On offense, it claims its growers’ increased efficiencies are the real cause of any pressures felt in Florida.
“In the last 10 years or so, we’ve just been pounded with so many different things,” Viramontes said. “Food safety, quality, security, responsibility. The only way to make that cost not affect the final price is to become more efficient, and we have.
“Florida still uses the same growing systems they had in place then. You don’t see greenhouses, shadehouses. Some growers there say they don’t invest because of the high risk of hurricanes. But we face that risk too on our coast; there are systems to deal with it,” he said.
In mid-October, representatives of Mexican growers met with Department of Commerce officials to propose raising the floor price of tomatoes 18% to 25%, depending on variety, and including all Mexican growers in the agreement.
It was not immediately clear whether that would move the dispute closer to resolution.
Reggie Brown, executive director of the Florida Tomato Exchange, told The Packer the suspension agreement was fundamentally flawed and biased.