Florida 'Appreciates' New Tomato Proposal, Nogales Growers Concerned

By Murphy Woodhouse
Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2019 - 9:26am
Updated: Wednesday, July 24, 2019 - 9:27am

Imported Tomatoes
Murphy Woodhouse/KJZZ
Workers sort through tomatoes at a packing plant in southern Sonora, Mexico.

The new U.S. Commerce Department proposal for imported Mexican tomatoes was welcomed by Florida growers, but hairs were raised among importers and growers south of the border.

The July 17 draft deal from Commerce would require inspection of 100% of inbound loads of Mexican tomatoes, and substantially increase the floor price for organic varieties. Both of those changes were very troubling to Nogales-based produce distributor Jaime Chamberlain.

“It’s logistically impossible to do,” Chamberlain said.

Under the previous agreement, which ended in early May, most Mexican tomato loads were not subject to inspection, according to Chamberlain.

But the Florida Tomato Exchange, which asked Commerce to end the tomato import deal last fall, called the proposal a “good starting point to resume negotiations with the Mexican industry.”

Chamberlain said he expects a decision from Commerce on the restarted antidumping investigation in the fall, possibly as late as November. Unless, that is, a new deal is reached.

For the time being, a nearly 18% duty remains in place on Mexican tomato imports.

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