Statements pour in on U.S.-Mexico tomato agreement

05:07PM Aug 22, 2019
roma tomatoes-web
( File photo )

Numerous produce industry and other groups have issued statements in the wake of a new agreement setting floor prices for Mexican tomatoes sent to the U.S.

The agreement between the Commerce Department and Mexican tomato growers was made late Aug. 20.

A sampling of the statements follow.

Commerce Secretary Wibur Ross:
“For many years, there have been disputes over the roughly $2 billion worth of tomatoes that are imported from Mexico annually. These disputes led the Department to terminate an earlier suspension agreement and continue an investigation that could have led to duties of 25 percent for most Mexican tomato producers. After intensive discussions with all parties, we initialed a new draft suspension agreement with the Mexican growers late last night. This draft agreement meets the needs of both sides and avoids the need for antidumping duties.”

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall:
“The U.S. and Mexico recently concluded an agreement that should give tomato farmers much needed stability in the coming years. Other crops, however, haven’t received such relief, so other farmers struggle to keep up with surging imports from Mexico such as cucumbers, peppers, blueberries and more.
“The United States Trade Representative has a duty to defend all agricultural markets, so it’s our sincere hope his office will move quickly to forge similar agreements over other products that are too often sold at artificially low prices.”

United Fresh Produce Association:
"… United Fresh would like to congratulate all of those involved to resolve this matter to bring stabilization back to the tomato marketplace. This will be beneficial for the entire distribution chain, most importantly growers and consumers."

Produce Marketing Association:
"PMA is pleased that a new draft agreement has been reached to bring certainty to the marketplace. Implementation will be critical to ensure the expectations of all parties are achieved and that the industry can continue to supply consumers with high-quality, year-round products at affordable prices. PMA looks forward to seeing details of the agreement, particularly provisions that outline the level of increased inspections that will impact the supply chain."

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue:
“Protecting America’s tomato producers from the glut of Mexican imports is yet another example of President Trump’s commitment to ensuring our farmers have the ability to succeed in international markets, as well as right here at home. Tomato producers across America, including those in Arizona, California, the Carolinas, Florida, and Georgia will benefit from the elimination of the unfair trade practices we have seen from these Mexican tomato imports, America’s farmers are the most productive on earth and President Trump recognizes that I thank him for his continued work to secure fair trade that benefits our nation’s producers and consumers alike. When it comes to trade and agriculture, we have a mutually dependent relationship with Mexico and reaching a compromise here allows us to refocus our efforts towards quick passage by Congress of the broader U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.”

Border Trade Alliance President Britton Clarke:
 “As we and our colleagues in the trade community have made clear, imposing duties on fresh tomato imports would not only have hurt U.S. consumers in the pocketbook, but it would have run completely counter to the spirit of binational cooperation imbued in NAFTA and now the USMCA, and would have severely complicated the new agreement’s fate on Capitol Hill.

“While we are relieved that new duties and higher prices will not continue to be passed on to U.S. importers and consumers, we are wary of any new mandated inspection regime that could dramatically slow processing times of tomato imports at U.S. ports of entry and put freshness and quality at risk.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (in a tweet)
“New #tomato suspension agreement should help stop #dumping. 100% inspections on most varieties & reforms to downstream price adjustments are huge wins for domestic growers especially here in #Florida. Thank you @POTUS & @SecretaryRoss for your leadership!”

Related stories:

Inspection provision in Mexico tomato deal draws critics

UPDATED: Deal struck between Commerce Department, Mexican growers