Mexican tomato growers have announced that they have executed a final agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce to suspend the investigation on imports of Mexican tomatoes into the United States. "The agreement was hard fought, but we were able to secure a number of important provisions that will make this deal work for our distributors and customers," said Mario Robles, Director of the Sinaloa growers association.
Chief among the provisions is the commitment that inspections will be conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in accordance with its normal practice, including being done in a timely manner and completed within 24 hours. Commerce also committed that the inspection program – which does not take effect for at least six months – will be developed and implemented in consultation with experts at the USDA.
"These provisions help relieve our concerns that the United States was setting up a de facto quota or volume restriction," said Rosario Beltran, President of the grower association CAADES. "We hope these provisions will give comfort to the many interests in both countries concerned about bottlenecks at the border and supply chain delays."
The Mexican growers were also able to preserve the ability to sell directly to U.S. retailers and otherwise protect the rights of these and other U.S. buyers to seek damages in the infrequent event of a breach of warranty. "It was very important to us that our U.S. customers not lose their options and we are happy that Commerce agreed," said Salvador Garcia, President of the Baja growers association.
"Considering that we started the negotiations with Commerce with the Florida Tomato Exchange demanding that the reference prices should be extended downstream to the final sale and that U.S. buyers be stripped of legal rights, we believe we have ended up in a much better place," said Oscar Woltman, President of AMHPAC, Mexico's largest growers' association.
"We take the Department of Commerce at its word that the agreement is not designed to impede trade and we thank the Department's team for working with us to make important changes to the agreement in the last 30 days," said Antonio Gandara, President of the Sonora growers association. "We look forward to continue supplying the best tomatoes in the world to U.S. consumers."