Special to the Journal
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies welcomed notification of an agreement between the United States and Mexico regarding the investigation of tomato ‘dumping’. Congressman Bishop has continued to be supportive of southwest Georgia’s tomato industry and has urged the Administration to find a solution to this issue.
“The recent agreement between the United States and Mexico concerning reinstating fair conditions for the trade of fresh tomatoes comes as a great relief to tomato farmers in Southwest Georgia,” said Congressman Bishop. “Through the mutual efforts of the United States and Mexican governments, rural America can now get back to the business of supporting and selling the best tomatoes in the world without fear of unfair pricing.”
“Congressman Bishop fought to help us get a fair deal,” said Reggie Brown, Executive Vice President of the Florida Tomato Exchange. “His support really made a difference in improving the suspension agreement.”
On February 2, 2013, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a draft agreement between the United States and Mexico which suspends the antidumping investigation of imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico that had originally been initiated in 1996. The proposed agreement covers imports of all fresh or chilled tomatoes of Mexican origin, except tomatoes that are for processing. Under U.S. antidumping law, the suspension agreement must prevent price undercutting and price suppression in the U.S. market and eliminate at least 85% of the dumping, thus providing the U.S. industry an opportunity to compete on a level playing field.
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. Today, Mexican tomato imports have roughly tripled, reaching a staggering level of approximately $1.8 billion last year.
Tomato farmers in Southwest Georgia and Northern Florida are still reeling from the 2008 tomato salmonella recall debacle 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. By terminating the existing agreement, fair market competition will be restored, predatory actions on the part of tomato producers in Mexico will be stopped, and Georgia growers of all size will be unburdened by the flood of unfairly priced tomatoes on the market.
For more information regarding the draft agreement between the United States and Mexico, please click here.