The Washington Public Policy Conference opening reception Monday night was highlighted by many tight clusters of conversations. One can easily imagine that most of the circles at some point touched on the Mexico-Florida tomato conflict.
From the snatches of conversations I joined, it is clear that many people do not want to see any negative trade effects from this dispute, but perhaps equally true that other commodity groups and leaders don’t want to inject themselves into the middle of someone else’s fight.
Since the stories I wrote last week, I was my reviewing inbox for tomato-related background that was sent my way. Here are a few highlights:
The most recent entry into the inbox was notice of a press conference Oct. 2.
From the release:
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 11 a.m. EDT U.S. business representatives discuss the impact of billions of dollars in trade and U.S. jobs that could be at risk because of the Obama administration’s decision to consider ending a vital 16-year-old tomato trade agreement with Mexico. The U.S. Commerce Department this week is scheduled to publish its intent to consider terminating the agreement.
“Terminating the agreement would be disastrous – leading to job losses in many U.S. industries, increased prices to U.S. consumers and a trade war with Mexico that could have a devastating impact on U.S. export industries,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. “The Obama administration is putting billions of dollars in U.S. trade and jobs at risk with this decision.”
Current news stories on the controversy tend to lean to the Mexican perspective. From the Heritage Foundation comes the headline “What does the Obama Administration have against cheap tomatoes?”
The Huffington Post coverage also quotes heavily from the Mexican perspective.
There is a certain segment of the public that rallies for the Florida position. Note this comment from a Jimmy in South Carolina in The Packer’s recent coverage.
Amen on keeping their trucks at home, Mexican Government with holds water from Texas farmers, and use every means to disrupt our produce farmers, it is high time we took steps that would tighten our fair trade standards, this no backbone government is not really about America and our concerns, if the politicians salary was base on the quality and salary of the new jobs being created, they would be on food stamps too, Food stamps should only be able to be spent on USA products,
Florida’s argument is well articulated by Reggie Brown, but Florida/U.S. tomato growers are heavily outgunned in the public relations battle by Mexican tomato and U.S. business interests. It is hardly a fair fight at all, except for the pitchforks and clubs that folks like Jimmy bring to the discussion. The bulk of the industry leaders who plead “Can’t we all just get along?” aren’t being heard right now.