Adam Putnam Backs End of Anti-Tomato Dumping Agreement
In a letter to Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam urges the U.S. Department of Commerce to accept the tomato industry’s request to void a failed trade agreement that has allowed cheaper produce to be imported from Mexico.
The growers had agreed in 2008 to suspend their 1996 request for relief from unfairly traded imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico.
By suspending the anti-dumping agreement in 2008 -- a move supported by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services -- the growers anticipated trading partners wouldn’t undercut U.S. prices.
“Gone unrecognized by new producers in Mexico and unenforced by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the 2008 Suspension Agreement has done little to protect Florida’s tomato growers from unfair competition,” Putnam wrote.
“Tomato imports reached roughly $1.8 billion last year, three times the value they were when the petition was originally filed in 1996; yet, there has been virtually no change in the underlying reference price in the suspension agreement.
“Already suffering from weak demand in a difficult economy, Florida’s tomato growers cannot compete in a market flooded by unprecedented imports of tomatoes from Mexico at prices well below the cost of production.”