UPDATED: U.S. and Mexico reach agreement on tomatoes

There’s a new agreement for Mexican tomato imports.

The new deal includes one piece of controversy in the process – a vast expansion of border quality inspections, from less than 10% currently to more than 90% under the new plan, according to the report.

Click here to read the agreement.

Florida tomato growers said they were happy with the agreement.

“The agreement establishes unprecedented measures and enforcement provisions that will help protect American tomato farmers from injurious dumped Mexican tomatoes,” the Florida Tomato Exchange said in an Aug. 21 release.

Meanwhile, The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas BB #:144354 expressed concern about the provision in the deal that seems to require inspections of up to 92 percent of all tomato lots entering the U.S. from Mexico.

“At that level, the inspections are not only unnecessary, they also have the potential to destabilize the U.S. tomato market,” said Lance Jungmeyer, President of the FPAA, in a news release Aug. 21.

The deal includes the provision that could be a snag for tomato importers: increasing quality inspections at the border to 92% overall. The FPAA estimates about 8% of loads are currently being inspected.

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“In the last 20 minutes of August 20, tomato producers in Mexico reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which will allow the anti-dumping investigation to be suspended,” tweeted Graciela Marquez ColÍn, Mexican Economy Minister. “This result is good news because it will keep the market open for our tomato exports to the United States.”

Mexican growers and importers have fought against that rise in inspections, calling it a non-tariff trade barrier that would be met with retaliation.

Other provisions included raising the floor price of specialty tomatoes, and a 40% price premium on organic tomatoes.

Negotiations were finished just before the midnight deadline for the 30-day comment period for the Commerce Department’s antidumping investigation is completed. Comments must be submitted by Sept. 9.

The deal is subject to a sunset review in September 2024.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services