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Florida Republicans Defend Trump, Commerce Department for Ending Tomato Agreement With Mexico Tomato Growers

March 16, 2019 - 9:00am
Members of the Florida delegation are defending the Trump administration and U.S. Commerce Department for ending an agreement with Mexican tomato growers.
Last month, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who sits on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee rounded up more than 45 members of Congress to sign a letter to U.S. Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross to end the agreement, insisting it “has allowed unfair competition to increasingly put U.S. tomato growers out of business” and “terminating the current agreement would restart a U.S. anti-dumping investigation on fresh tomatoes from Mexico while giving Commerce more leverage to try to secure a new suspension agreement that is both effective and enforceable.”
The Florida delegation offered strong support for Rubio and Yoho with Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie Murphy, Donna Shalala, Darren Soto,  Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson and Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Ross Spano, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz and Dan Webster signing on. 
The Commerce Department announced last month that it will withdraw from the agreement by May 7. 
“Upon completion of the withdrawal, the Department of Commerce will continue with its investigation and notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its final determination. If the Department continues to find sales made at less than fair value in its final determination, the ITC will then complete its own investigation and make a final determination with respect to injury. If both Commerce and the ITC issue affirmative final determinations, an anti-dumping duty order will be issued,” the Commerce Department noted.  
But that decision drew fire this week from the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA).
“The demand for vine-ripened Mexican tomatoes has built up a supply chain that supports over 33,000 U.S. jobs and nearly $3 billion in U.S. GDP,” the FPAA tweeted at Ross. 
FPAA President  Lance Jungmeyer also pushed back at the decision and took aim at tomato growers in Florida. 
“The truth appears to be that leaders of the Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE) are on a campaign to portray themselves as the victims to trade while leveraging U.S. trade law to corner the market and drive out competition,” said Jungmeyer.
“It is beyond ironic that the growers which grow the largest percentage of Florida tomatoes also own and finance some of the largest growing operations in Mexico,” Jungmeyer insisted. 
Rubio and Yoho responded this week slamming the criticism as “short-sighted.”
“Washington’s willingness to sacrifice entire domestic industries and local production just to shave pennies off the costs that American consumers might pay for products is one of the main reasons why Donald Trump is president today. He rightly understood there is no dignity for American workers in buying cheaper, imported goods without domestic production supporting jobs, paychecks, and livelihoods,” Rubio said this week. “Florida benefits greatly from fairly traded imports through some of the best seaport infrastructure in the world. Unfortunately, Mexican seasonal fruit and vegetable imports continue to pour in across the southern border with little regard for the rules that are supposed to guarantee that freely imported goods are also fairly traded.
“The faulty economic foundation created by this unfair foreign trade continues to enrich Mexican producers and domestic importers and distributors at the expense of domestic producers,” Rubio added. “We cannot stand by as some profit from unfair fruit and vegetable imports directly at the expense of their neighbors and countrymen. Fortunately, President Trump and Secretary Ross understand the importance of an economy that values both domestic production and fairly traded import goods. After all, free, fair, and reciprocal trade should not just be a slogan, it must be the only way of doing business with the United States of America.”
“For too long, our domestic tomato industry has been harmed by Mexican producers dumping tomatoes into the U.S. market. I am confident that the Department of Commerce made the right decision to withdraw from the Tomato Suspension Agreement so these unfair trading practices can be properly addressed. Our domestic producers must have a level playing field, and that requires the enforcement of rules that guarantee fair trade,” Yoho said. 
Other Republicans in the Florida delegation also weighed in. 
“Florida’s tomato farmers have been looking for relief from unfair trade practices in Mexico for many years. The opportunity for our growers to fairly compete is finally here. I commend the administration for standing up for the people of Florida,” said Diaz-Balart.
“Unfair trade practices are hurting our local growers and hindering their ability to compete. This must be stopped. Much like tomato growers, strawberry growers in my district are under attack from illegal ‘dumping’ practices and are unable to defend themselves under present treaties. I will continue to stand with my colleagues in the House and Senate in coming to the aid of our farmers and ensure that both the administration and our nation, are being treated fairly and just under any new trade agreement,” Spano said.
“The data is overwhelmingly clear, Mexico has been waging an assault on southeastern tomato producers for years– and getting away with it. I applaud the Administration for putting domestic growers first and stand by their decision to terminate the suspension agreement,” said Dunn. 
“For decades, Florida's growers have tried to compete on an unbalanced playing field. After years of failed negotiations, termination of the suspension agreement has finally given our growers a fighting chance against these unfair trade practices,” said Waltz.


Hmmm, I see a lot of you are just spouting off to be relevant. Try and read up on what’s been going on for last 20 years or maybe go to a farm in Mexico and than one in Florida, it will open your eyes. Ever hear of Food Miles, Food Safety, CIW, Labor shortages do i need to continue. And the few political comments made about nothing, i think there’s a facebook page for those. Grow Some

"Defending Trump" for anything is like defending John Gotti because he regularly dropped a fifty-dollar bill into his church's collection basket.

Hmm, just paid $3.99 a pound for tomatoes at Publix, and those were the less expensive variety. Don't think $4.99 a lb for domestic tomatoes will sell. I know I won't buy, and don't think that will help the Florida farmer out any.

punishment for refusing to pay for his wall...too funny.

Ummm. Hello. Republicans are supposed to support our President. If they don't we won't vote for them. Common sense. We finally have a President who touts "America First". Every chance I get, I buy American, just like I used to do when all we had to choose from was American made or grown. It was a wonderful, innocent and prosperous time in America. We'll never regain that level of innocence but there is no reason we can't support our own homegrown produce and any other product we can find that is made or grown in the good ol' U.S.A. Once we make a fair trade deal with Mexico, we can buy Mexican tomatoes when tomates aren't in season here in the U.S. The jobs will sort out. We have one shot to fix the trade balance. Certainly no other politician will tackle the hard issues like President Trump has done. Everybody chill and be patient while negotiations are going on.

Let's see. Trump uses Chinese steel, sells Chinese made items, imports 200 waiters, etc and hires illegal aliens for his resorts taking American jobs...…..He signs contracts with small businesses then when the job is done Trump offers 50% or take him to court, bankrupting American small businesses...…...…...There is little Trump touches that doesn't turn to cr-p as he has made the shrinking repub party into as decent people just leave...……….Repubs are completely fiscally and morally bankrupt now with the most recent budget deficit of $1.1T/yr!!! in a good economy!!............….Vs Obama got it down to $450B recovering from the depression Bush/repubs got us into...…...…..And the trade deficit has went up to record levels says Trump is incompetent too...…..

Like good little NAZIS, Southern Republicans fall lock step behind Der Fuehrer. I guess if you NEVER lived up north and had to deal with Mr. Back stabber, you just wouldn't know what he's like. This is a show, people. He's only in this to advance his own personal wealth. He just doesn't care about any of us. But hey, y'all think he's the cat's meow. You'll find out.

Assbucket, you do know that nazi's are democratic socialists like you!

only an idiot would ever think a Democratic Socialist was the same as a Nazi. Nazi's are authoritarian racists. Every industrialized country in the world except the U.S. has nationalized healthcare and practices some forms of Democratic Socialism, even the U.S. does on a more limited basis with Medicaid and Medicare, but asshats like you only follow what you hear on FoxNews, or what Spanky says...

The "imported tomatoes" (frequently Hydroponic and tasteless) have to be shipped WAY before they are Ripe. I MUCH prefer locally grown-in-the-ground that can ripen a bit more before they hit the market shelves. Support Florida-grown Agriculture!

Florida's "Truck Farmers" have been "under assault" from our "neighbors South of the Border" for far too long !!!

Because they're cheaper! Big business produce companies don't care about local anything. They care about how much money they save, by having them grown in Mexico.

Where do those translucent, slightly pink, tasteless tomatoes come from? That's all I see here.

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