Mexican Growers Propose Changes to Tomato Import Agreement

The growers are looking for clearer enforcement standards of the existing agreement.

Tomatoes On The Vine

Associations representing most of the Mexican tomato industry formally presented to the Commerce Department proposed changes to the 2013 Tomato Suspension Agreement. These changes included enforcement and anti-circumvention provisions and strategic price increases. While the record of the 2013 Agreement reflects full compliance with the agreement, the Mexican growers offered these proposals to ensure airtight enforcement:

  • Price increases ranging between six and 34 percent, including eliminating any differences between the summer and winter prices under the agreement, and establishing a higher price for specialty tomatoes grown organically.
  • Requirements that loads of Mexican tomatoes with more than 35 percent condition defects will have to be driven back to Mexico at the grower's expense.
  • Provisions making exports of Mexican tomatoes under a different signatory number other than one's own a violation of the agreement.
  • No adjustments can be made under the reference price.
  • Provisions to block unintended exports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico and better manage inventory levels in the United States.
  • Provisions to strengthen the ability of the Department of Agriculture to enforce the Tomato Suspension Agreement under the PACA by giving the Commerce Department all necessary grower documents to prove PACA violations.
  • New penalties for intentional violations of the agreement by Mexican growers or their selling agents.
  • Commitments by Mexican growers to help facilitate efforts by an inter-agency task force to enforce the agreement, including through on-site and video verifications, and a willingness to use independent auditors to help in that effort.

"Our goal from the beginning of the renegotiation process has been to focus on enforcement even though there is no evidence of circumvention of the agreement," said Oscar Woltman, president of AMPHAC, the largest Mexican growers association. "We have developed proposals on both sides of the border focusing on enforcing the arrival condition of the first sale, which is what is covered by the anti-dumping law. We can't, of course, agree to anything that goes beyond the reach of U.S. law," added Rosario Beltran of Confederación de Asociaciones Agrícolas del Estado de Sinaloa, A.C.