National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

Just checking from the Olathe Public Library on a cold Monday morning, a day away from the office but not from the blog.

Check out the new post by Gen X Mom Sarah Krause here. Sarah worked at The Packer back in 1992-1993 and is a popular contributor to the Fresh Talk blog and also a freelance correspondent for The Packer.

So, are U.S. and Mexican tomato interests still on a collision course or not? One source I talked with a couple of weeks ago with said that U.S. tomato interests have suggested a minimum price of 38 cents per pound for Mexican imported tomatoes, compared with the current suspension agreement levels near 21.5 cents per pound. The higher minimum would translate to a per carton price of about $9.50 per box, up from about $6 per carton under the most recent suspension agreement.

The source I visited with said that Mexican tomato interests weren't keen on the large increase in the minimum price. In October, the New York Times reported that Mexico had then offered an increase in the 25 to 27 cent per pound range and also proposed that 100% of Mexican tomato exports were be covered, rather than the current minimum of 85%.

Meanwhile, politicians in Arizona are lobbying for a negotiated peace.

There is more work to be done, but the source I talked with thought it possible that a new, higher minimum price could be negotiated by late spring. At this point, that may be the best outcome to cool the growing trade friction between the U.S. and Mexico.

On a related note, the USDA reports that January through November 2012 U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes totaled $1.43 billion, down from the whole-year total of $1.8 billion in 2011. Find the month to month totals below.