National Editor Tom KarstThe industry continues to seek clarity on the tomato suspension agreement, and this blog post may help. Just today I received an e-mail from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, which provided the transcript of the question and answer session of the March 14 Tomato Suspension Agreement web seminar. The text is reprinted below, just as it was sent to me by the USDA.
You might note that Rudman was restating questions submitted from participants and then providing a response in the question and answer session.
March 14, 2013, Judith Rudman, USDOC and Brian Wright, USDA
What constitutes “further process” that qualifies for the processing exemption?
That one was sent in right at the beginning of the presentation, so I am hoping that it is now clearer and the idea is that tomatoes for processing have to be identified prior to entering the U.S., and have to be in a special pak-type, etc., There’s the appendix in the agreement that deals with tomatoes for processing, so we think we answered that one.
I have a few questions concerning the definition of a controlled environment...
I read the definition for you kind of quickly, but I wanted to point to where it is in the text of the agreement and that might be helpful. It is in Section 4(c), 3(b), and I will read it again. It says (for purposes of the Agreement), controlled environment tomatoes are limited to those tomatoes grown in a fully-enclosed permanent aluminum or fixed steel structure, clad in glass, impermeable plastic, or polycarbonate, using automated irrigation and climate control, including heating and ventilation capabilities, in an artificial medium using hydroponic methods. This is a strict definition of what constitutes a controlled environment for tomatoes. If you have any questions, again, it is in Section 4(c), 3b of the Agreement.
There is a question here on if there will be any website, email or platform to report suspicious activities?
Certainly people have notified Commerce in the past of these problems and PACA. I would refer you to the page actually that we are on now, where we have the PACA website. As Brian said during the presentation, if USDA is notified in writing, then that is what they need to follow up. Brian’s email and phone number in Tucson and I’m looking at Brian to see if he wants to add anything else right now. Okay, we’re good. Thanks.
Somebody asked how will the importations of non-signatory products be enforced at all the ports?