Arizona Senators: Latest Tomato Import Deal Is Unfair

By Murphy Woodhouse
Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 4:56pm
Updated: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 9:49pm

The Department of Commerce’s (DOC) latest proposal for Mexican tomato imports is getting a bipartisan thumbs down from Arizona’s two senators.

In a joint letter sent this week to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Sen. Martha McSally call two of the mid-July proposal’s elements “unworkable.”

They were referring to the DOC’s plan to require inspection of 100% of inbound Mexican tomato loads, and limit compensation for buyers when tomatoes are rejected.

“Inspection data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that there is no legitimate commercial purpose for a 100% inspection mandate on imported Mexican tomatoes,” the letter reads. “Instead, the inspections would serve as an artificial barrier to trade.”

“It shows that they’re concerned for the issues that we as an industry are facing,” said Scott Vandervoet, chairman of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

Requiring inspections of every load would be a logistical nightmare, he added.

In their letter, the senators said that requirement could add nearly $300 million in costs, and spur retaliatory inspection measures from the Mexican government.

The previous tomato suspension agreement, which Commerce ended in early May, set floor prices and ground rules for Mexican tomato imports. Negotiations for a new deal are ongoing.

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