FPAA and FTE Issue Statements Regarding the Latest Tomato Deal
- by Anne Allen
UNITED STATES - Mexican growers submitted a new proposal to the Department of Commerce on May 22, 2019; Florida growers in turn rejected it. Both the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas’ (FPAA) President Lance Jungmeyer and the Florida Tomato Exchange’s (FTE) Executive Vice President Michael Schadler issued statements regarding the matter.
“The immediate refusal from Florida has the appearance that they have no intention of dealing in good faith. Our fear is that they are looking for total control of every aspect of the tomato supply chain and that there will be no appeasing them until they manipulate the U.S. government into getting a monopoly of the U.S. tomato market,” said Jungmeyer. “The Florida claims of unfair trading are unfounded, and the fact that they have lost market share is largely due to the Florida tomato growers lack of innovation compared to producers in the rest of the world. They continue to push their political agenda for maximum protectionist measures at the expense of other U.S. companies and consumers, including giving distinct advantage to their repacking business model, which is unnecessary for imported vine-ripe tomatoes because they are consumer ready.”
He went on to assert that a timely resolution to a new Tomato Suspension Agreement is in the best interest of American shoppers and the companies involved in selling tomatoes, be they importers, retailers, wholesalers, transportation companies, foodservice suppliers, and more.
“Punitive duties are amassing that will amount to millions of dollars which will effectively be paid for by the American public, and supply chains are being disrupted because of the lack of a resolution, with consumers finding their favorite vine-ripened tomatoes gone from some supermarkets,” stated Jungmeyer. “It is time to end the tomato dispute and remove this tax on American consumers by reaching a sensible agreement.”
Michael Schadler of the Florida Tomato Exchange offered his own take on the latest negotiations.
“We appreciate the Mexican growers’ willingness to continue negotiating. We are surprised, however, that the new Mexican proposal is a step backwards. It withdraws proposals they had made to the Commerce Department in early May. We do not understand why the Mexican growers continue to reject the good faith efforts of the Commerce Department to negotiate a new suspension agreement,” Schadler said. “We think the Commerce Department’s May 10 proposal is the basis for an agreement that will prevent unfair Mexican trade practices from injuring American tomato producers while continuing to allow Mexican tomato growers to access the U.S. market.”
He continued, stating that, “Any new agreement must address the flaws of the old agreement. The latest Commerce Department proposal would be an improved agreement for both sides. The domestic industry simply will not support any proposal that does not stop the injury to American growers by dumped Mexican tomatoes.”
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