Will savemytomato save the bacon? - The Packer

Will savemytomato save the bacon?

09/07/2012 12:44:00 PM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstYou have heard the expression, "save my bacon."

The new web site for advocating for preservation of the U.S. tomato agreement with Mexico is, no kidding, www.savemytomato.com.

The web site opens up with a series of appealing photos, alternating between  mom and family creating a salad, an attractive woman buying tomatoes at a retail store and a smiling produce clerk. The web page has a tag line "support free trade." and messages like "Don't let special interest groups take a bite out of your pocket."

The opening web page links to an ad that will run in several publications, featuring a blue-eyed six-year old girl with a "Dear President Obama" letter in the background.

Will this slick web site and effective messaging save the bacon of the fresh tomato industry in Mexico? It won't hurt, I'd say.

Meanwhile, here are some excerpts from the FPAA press release announcing the "savemytomato" web site:

An influential group of businesses, agricultural and food industry organizations warn that special interest efforts to abolish a 16-year U.S. tomato agreement with Mexico could lead to a trade war costing the American economy billions of dollars in exports and tens of thousands of jobs.

A growing number of industry leaders, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Restaurant Association, Wal-Mart and nearly a dozen meat, dairy and poultry producers’ organizations, is asking the Obama Administration to continue the long-standing agreement with one of America’s largest trading partners.
“Termination of the tomatoes agreement will benefit no one and will lead only to uncertainty and unpredictability in the market,” Wal-Mart officials wrote to the Commerce Department.
The National Restaurant Association, the leading business organization for the restaurant and food service industry, wrote, “Unpredictable, and possibly higher tomato prices could negatively impact industry operations.” The U.S. food and restaurant industry accounts for more than one-third of all the tomatoes consumed in America, according to the trade group.
Agricultural groups representing meat, dairy and poultry producers say they are concerned about impact of a trade war on jobs and their industries.
“The $100 billion U.S. produce market is now globally integrated, and up to $7 billion of the industry is comprised of fruits and vegetables from Mexico, affecting tens of thousands of U.S. workers,” Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) wrote in a letter to the Commerce Department. “Ending this agreement will put people out of work, reduce the variety and quality of tomatoes available to consumers and hurt all Americans by raising prices at the supermarket check-out line.”

TK: This is a well-coordinated strike in the public relations battle between Florida and Mexican tomato interests, as it brings in the perspective of other ag groups concerned about trade disruptions with Mexico. I have to wonder if the consumer will seek out and connect with the "savemytomato" message, but this web effort hits all the right simple notes for consumers unfamiliar with the issue.

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Cincinnati  |  September, 11, 2012 at 02:36 PM

Note to NRA: The Florida Tomato Growers (sic) wants to raise tomato prices. Don't you get it?

September, 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM

The Tomato industry is in disarray. The U.S and Canadian tomato farmers are suffering because of the Mexican influence. U.S and Canada do not have a level playing field when it comes to cost of production(labor the main issue). This is very simple, U.S and Canada are simply trying to get the price up on tomatoes. We cannot do this when Mexico is delivering as far north as Canada at less then our cost of production.

Canada  |  September, 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Gary hit it right on the head. If Mexico is allowed to deliver for less then our cost of production, how U.S and Canada farmers compete?

Tomatoland  |  September, 12, 2012 at 06:55 PM

David, it is called innovation. Mexico is allowed to deliver for below the domestic cost of production because they have invested heavily in technologies that increase quality and thus yields on a per acre basis.

September, 13, 2012 at 08:28 AM

Not sure the last time you came to a Ontario Greenhouse but we have all the same innovations. We have made the same investments. Bottom line we need to get the price of Tomatoes up. A retailer does not want a vendor that is not going to be there next year because they are not making any money. Call it what you want. There is alot at stake here if U.S and Canadian farmers go down. Many lost jobs. This is a very real issue. There is a human factor to this.

Tomatoland  |  September, 13, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Do you not see that there are those same factors at stake if the Mexican tomato industry goes down? There will be thousands of jobs lost, and not just Mexican jobs. Florida simply cannot supply enough tomatoes during the winter months for the entirety of US consumption. They want to corner the market and then they will fail. I don't even know where or how the Canadian industry got pulled into this as if they are somehow intrinsically linked to the Florida production. What is truly troubling and is not being reported on is that while these Florida growers are shamelessly decrying the Mexican tomato industry, they are purchasng Mexican tomatoes to fill their contracts, they are partnering with Mexican growers to supplement their own growing capacity. We hear the VP of one of the largest Florida producers talk about the sub-par sanitary conditions, lack of proper food safety, etc all while buying this product to sell to his customers that he claims demand the best. Talk about hypocrisy at its finest...

Rio Rico, AZ  |  September, 13, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Tom, One thing that you have left out of this article is that there is also a letter in support of the agreement signed by FMI. With FMI representing the largest buying segment in the country, it sure seems to me that this is something the buying community wants and is asking for.

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