The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) has issued the following statement:
"The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) urges the Department of Commerce to continue to work with the Mexican growers of fresh tomatoes to create an updated Tomato Suspension Agreement that remains within the scope of the law. The FPAA acknowledges the difficult task of balancing an agreement that fairly addresses Florida concerns while not catering to Florida’s pressure to create an agreement that no U.S. supermarket could agree to, and which would effectively prevent supermarkets from purchasing Mexican tomatoes.
"As in previous iterations of the Tomato Suspension Agreement, however, the FPAA is confident that rational proposals from Commerce and the Mexican growers can result in an agreement that fairly addresses Florida concerns without unduly harming American shoppers and the entire U.S. tomato industry.
"It is no surprise to read in the most recent release from the Mexican growers that the Florida Tomato Exchange continues to ask for protections outside the scope of existing U.S. law, including asking for major changes that would effectively block imports of Mexican tomatoes by making it economically risky for U.S. buyers. James Munguia, the FPAA tomato division chairman, was featured in a recent editorial in a produce newspaper outlining the harm that FTE seeks to inflict on the industry by denying buyers’ rights to reject tomatoes and seek allowed reimbursements for certain costs.
"As the U.S. importers and distributors of fresh tomatoes, our members continue to strive to bring the best tomatoes to the marketplace to meet the demands of consumers. Working closely with retailers, food service companies, and other buyers, our members’ main focus is supplying the vine-ripened, high-quality tomatoes that drive sales in stores and restaurants. Unfortunately, as negotiations are hampered by unlawful demands from a small group of politically connected Florida companies, U.S. consumers continue to pay tomato taxes, and U.S. companies continue to face uncertainty in the marketplace.
"The FPAA urges Commerce to strike a fair and effective agreement with Mexican growers that balances adequate protections for Florida growers while not harming other U.S. businesses. The livelihood of U.S. businesses across the supply chain hangs in the balance awaiting a return to a sensible, fair, stabilizing agreement."