FPAA issues response to Senator Rubio

PRESS RELEASE: Nogales, Ariz. (August 8, 2019) Apparently what is good for the goose is not good for the gander in the eyes of Senator Marco Rubio or the Florida Tomato Exchange. It is ironic that Senator Rubio wants Commerce to complete its internal process for an anti-dumping investigation, because the Senator earlier this year used political pressure to derail another internal process at Commerce.

Earlier this year, Commerce was supposed to complete an Administrative Review of the Tomato Suspension Agreement, a review that we believe would have shown the agreement was functioning as intended. Instead, right before this Administrative Review should have been completed, Senator Rubio sent a letter to Commerce asking them to terminate the agreement and instead re-open the anti-dumping investigation. Commerce responded to the political pressure, and now here we are, with consumers paying more for tomatoes and the U.S. and Mexico careening toward a trade conflict.

By recklessly blurring the history of Mexican tomato importation into the U.S., Senator Rubio is trying to distract us from how the Commerce department’s recent decisions threaten to turn the U.S. tomato market into a tailspin that will primarily benefit the FTE.

The FTE has spent decades trying to erect barriers against better quality tomatoes from Mexico. If the FTE, with Senator Rubio running interference, gets its way, the small number of businesses it represents stand to take near-total control over most of the U.S. tomato market, in likely violation of antitrust laws.

As a result, millions of American consumers will be deprived of the affordable, high-quality tomatoes they have come to expect from their retailers, and hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of American workers who bring tomatoes to American markets will lose their livelihoods.

This is not the glorious free market that Senator Rubio has frequently championed in the past but a power grab by a well-connected few at the expense of many.

TIMELINE:

  • On March 29, 2018, the Florida Tomato Exchange filed a request that Commerce complete an Administrative Review of the Tomato Suspension Agreement
  • On May 2, 2018, Commerce initiated the Administrative Review
  • Feb. 1, 2019, Senator Rubio and other Congressmen sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Ross asking for the Tomato Suspension Agreement to be terminated, thus rendering moot the Administrative Review that was requested by FTE
  • Feb. 6, 2019, Commerce gave notice that it would withdraw from the agreement in 90 days, or May 7, 2019, after which duties would be in place

For more information, contact:

Lance Jungmeyer or Erika Dominguez

Fresh Produce Association of the Americas

1 (520) 287-2707

Erika@freshfrommexico.com

 

Editor’s note: Please read here for Blue Book’s editorial process on covering the ongoing tomato dispute.