( Logo courtesy AMHPAC )

I feel compelled to respond to disappointing comments about the renegotiation of the Tomato Suspension Agreement made by Michael Schadler of the Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE) in the March 4 issue of The Packer. As the president of the largest Mexican grower associations involved in these negotiations for over one year, I must set the record straight. 

Contrary to Mr. Schadler’s assertions, in the past year the Mexican growers have had a constructive dialogue with the U.S. Commerce Department to resolve open issues impacting the future of the suspension agreement. We are also aware that the present agreement can have improvements and therefore have made several positive proposals in that direction.

We have submitted at least five different proposals and several clarifications to the department. We have also submitted thousands of pages of data and other information in support of our proposals that are all available for FTE’s review. 

It is our understanding that Commerce consulted with the Florida growers and that FTE has rejected each one of our proposals. 

Instead, FTE continues to insist, as it did in a November 2017 letter to the department, that the agreement’s reference price should be extended downstream beyond the first sale to an unaffiliated party in the U.S. 
We understand that proposal is beyond the scope of the antidumping law and would turn the entire market for fresh produce in the U.S. on its head.  

We highly doubt that the Commerce Department has kept the Florida growers in the dark about the specifics of our proposals, which focus on tightening enforcement of the agreement on both sides of the border.

Beyond this, many Mexican growers in my association and other associations have had numerous conversations with Florida growers who are not a party to the agreement, about the willingness of the Mexican growers to negotiate and agree to numerous enforcement mechanisms. 

We sent our latest, very strong proposal to Commerce in December but have not heard back. While we are greatly disappointed in Commerce’s decision last month to withdraw from that agreement, we continue to work with the department to resolve this matter in the best interests of all parties by the May 7 deadline.

I urge Mr. Schadler and the FTE to work with the Commerce Department to resolve this dispute in a manner that best serves all parties. In the end, the biggest loser in this dispute will be U.S. consumers.

Oscar Woltman, president
Asociación Mexicana de Horticultura Protegida AC (AMHPAC)


Related content:
UPDATED: Mexican tomato growers challenge Commerce Department
Industry reacts to plans to end tomato suspension agreement
Florida, Mexico tomato groups spar over trade

Submitted by Produce guy on Fri, 03/08/2019 - 06:31

Just as with the China trade agreement this started out with a kernel of good intentions and has evolved into protectionism and a full blown handout to Florida growers. Ironically, aren't subsidies (in other countries) the reason why we started these wars in the first place?? This simply has to run its course. Let the bad ideas be implemented now, but let's note their outcome and hold the parties responsible politically responsible. Florida Growers have at least a $3 to $5 freight advantage over Mexico, if this isn't enough for them to be competitive nothing is. Taking money out of consumer's pockets to prop up uncompetitive industries is just a bad idea for our country in general.

Submitted by Vincent Mark on Fri, 03/08/2019 - 08:02

And Mexican growers have slave labor (50 dollars a month per picker). Should the United States permit a country that is willing to engage in such labor practices to destroy an industry that is vital to national security? If ever there were another world war would it be wise to have allowed the United States to become a Net importer of its own food? Regardless, the current situation as it stands is untenable because there is flagrant disregard for the suspension agreement and the only people who are making money are the parties that simply break the law. I would know, I’m an importer who lives in the Río Grande Valley and the trade practices coming out of Mexico are unethical and sometimes illegal.

In reply to by Produce guy (not verified)

Submitted by Jim on Fri, 03/08/2019 - 07:04

I don’t want my money going to Mexican drug cartels so I don’t buy fresh produce from Mexico.

Submitted by James Jensen on Fri, 03/08/2019 - 09:46

Mexican growers offer out contracts at below the U.S. cost of production due to extremely cheap Mexican Labor. Every U.S Tomato grower is being effected here. This isn't just a Florida deal. The U.S market share has gone from 60% to 40% and dropping. Growing tomatoes in the US is unsustainable unless something is done.

Submitted by Mr stern on Sun, 03/17/2019 - 12:31

Most of the tomato growing big shots in Mexico are financed by US tomato magnates, as well as other industries in Mexico ?????? This is just political nonsense tomato growers in FLA. As well
as FLA. citrus growers just want a free ride on U S consumers back