SAN ANTONIO, TX, October 26, 2023 — With broad support from tomato producers, trade associations, state and local leaders, and beyond, NatureSweet BB #:152351 has submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Commerce strongly urging the government to preserve the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement, which is critical to ensuring stability and fair practices in the market for fresh tomatoes.
A small group of domestic tomato producers is petitioning the Department of Commerce to terminate a longstanding trade agreement between the United States and importers of fresh tomatoes from Mexico.
The Tomato Suspension Agreement, which has been in place in various forms since 1996 and was most recently renegotiated in 2019, ensures fair trade practices and a stable market for imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico to the United States.
Without the 2019 Suspension Agreement in place, NatureSweet, the #1 snacking tomato brand headquartered in Texas, and countless other companies would face tariffs of more than 20 percent on the import of fresh tomatoes into the United States.
“The suspension agreement is critical to keeping specialty tomato varieties on American grocery store shelves,” says Skip Hulett, Vice President of General Counsel for NatureSweet. “Nearly all of the grape and cherry tomatoes consumed by American families come from Mexico, where growing conditions are ideal for year-round production.”
NatureSweet, an agricultural company headquartered in Texas, has been producing high-quality, flavor-rich produce for more than 30 years. The company has operations in both the United States and Mexico and employs more than 6,000 agricultural workers.
Terminating the suspension agreement would not only impact NatureSweet’s ability to provide fresh produce to Americans, but it would also jeopardize jobs and the company’s ability to continue transforming the lives of agricultural workers in North America.
“We provide year-round jobs, pay our employees almost 40% above the median wage for agricultural workers, we help our workers obtain access to improved medical care services, education, and develop careers,” adds Hulett. “This tariff would punish companies like NatureSweet, which are doing the right thing.”
In a compliance audit released this month, the Department of Commerce found zero consequential violations of the agreement by importers of fresh tomatoes. Importers continue to play by the rules to deliver fresh, quality tomatoes to American families.
Recently, a coalition of more than 400 companies across the supply chain representing 32 states signed a letter to the Commerce Department urging the Department to keep the agreement in place. NatureSweet will continue to partner with industry leaders to encourage Commerce to reach a resolution that allows economies on both sides of the border to continue thriving.
About NatureSweet® (NS Brands, Ltd.)
NatureSweet® is the single-source solution for greenhouse-grown vegetables and is the #1 best-selling brand in snacking tomatoes. The largest vertically integrated agriculture company in North America, NatureSweet guarantees great tasting produce year-round, both organic and conventional. Our vegetables are carefully grown, harvested, and packaged by more than 6,000 directly employed company Associates. NatureSweet tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers are handpicked at the peak of freshness and sold at major supermarket retailers throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. NatureSweet is dedicated to having a positive social, environmental, and economic impact within our communities, and our commitment is to transform the lives of agricultural workers throughout North America. This work, as well as our efforts regarding sustainability, have led us to earn B Corp, Fair Trade, and the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) certifications. NatureSweet, headquartered in Texas with facilities in Arizona and Mexico, is the largest Controlled Environment Agriculture company in the world to be B Corp, Fair Trade, and EFI certified.
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