WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, welcomed notification of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s preliminary decision to terminate an antidumping investigation that has hurt U.S. tomato growers. In a July 2012 letter to Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Rebecca Blank, Congressman Bishop stood in support of Georgia’s tomato industry concerning unfair Mexican trade practices. He called for the withdrawal of an antidumping petition and termination of a Suspension Agreement that had hampered the fair trade of fresh tomatoes between the U.S. and Mexico.
“I applaud the U.S. Department of Commerce’s preliminary decision to level the playing field between U.S tomato growers and the Mexican market for our produce,” said Congressman Bishop. “Though the process is not yet over, I look forward to the potential of free and fair trade conditions being restored within the tomato industry. Normality will improve the confidence of the agriculture sector in Georgia, which will in turn bolster the nation’s economy.”
In 1996, an antidumping petition requesting relief from unfairly traded imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico was filed by tomato producers from across the nation. After examining the facts, the United States government determined that there was reason to believe the subject tomatoes were being sold in this country at less than fair value at margins as high as 188 percent.
U.S. tomato farmers are still recovering from the 2008 tomato salmonella recall as consumers quit buying tomatoes on the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Georgia alone, tomato growers lost over $14 million from tomatoes grown but not sold; growers nationwide lost more than $125 million.
The recent announcement from the U.S. Department of Commerce heralds its preliminary decision to terminate the antidumping investigation, which if final, will result in the termination of the suspension agreement and termination of the sixteen year old investigation. By terminating the existing agreement, U.S. tomato growers will gain the legal right to have examined whether Mexican growers are continuing to hamper fair market competition by using predatory actions. If so, such actions can at last be stopped, and Georgia growers of all size will be unburdened by the flood of unfairly priced tomatoes on the market.
To read the letter to Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, please click here.
To read the U.S. Department of Commerce’s preliminary decision memo, please click here.