Walmart and US produce importers worried about Mexican Tomato Deal draft

The draft deal that may end the months-long stand-off over imported Mexican tomatoes is raising concerns among both southern Arizona produce importers and major US retailer Walmart.

That deal, initialed by the US Department of Commerce and Mexican growers in August, would raise the floor price of tomatoes, as well as limit the ability of buyers to be compensated for damaged loads. It would also significantly increase border inspections.

Scott Vandervoet, board chair of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, fears the additional inspections. They could spell border bottlenecks, as well as tens of millions of dollars in warehouse expansions and other costs that consumers could ultimately bear, according to Vandervoet.

Walmart calls the new inspection requirements “overly burdensome” given what the nation’s largest retailer called Mexican tomatoes’ “high quality and low failure rate,” in a recent filing.

According to an article on¸ Commerce defended the inspections and other parts of the deal as necessary to prevent downward pressure on prices, in its own August filing.

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