Fresh Produce Association of the Americas responds to Florida Tomato Exchange
Nogales, AZ (October 25, 2023) – Anti-dumping duties will not fix what ails the Florida tomato industry, no matter how much the Florida Tomato Exchange wishes for them. That was the sentiment of public comments from the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA), responding to the Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE), which seeks to impose duties of 20.9% on most Mexican tomato imports.
“FTE’s Comments are more notable for what they did not address than for the rehash of its weak and unsupported attempt to justify its termination request,” according to the filing from FPAA.
FPAA notes that FTE provides no plausible explanation or factual support why an antidumping order will do a better job than the 2019 Suspension Agreement to address any alleged problems. FPAA believes that abandoning the Reference Price under the 2019 Suspension Agreement and imposing antidumping duties will deprive the U.S. tomato market of vine-ripe tomato varieties that the domestic industry does not produce and will destabilize the U.S. tomato market because of increased volatility in pricing. In short, abandoning the 2019 Suspension Agreement and imposing antidumping duties will harm, not help, the domestic industry.
In the comments filed on the public record, FPAA noted that imposing antidumping duties will not:
- Provide the additional agricultural labor needed by domestic tomato growers.
- Prevent catastrophic hurricanes or freezes that endanger domestic crops, or stop the oceans from rising that are raising the salinity of domestic growing fields.
- Improve the FTE members’ poor soil and pest conditions.
- Stem the increasing pressure of urbanization and suburbanization encroaching on farmland.
In FTE’s September filings, the gas-green tomato organization made the claim that Mexican competition was the sole reason that Florida producers such as Ag-Mart were sending their grape tomato production to Mexico.
In addition to the lack of agricultural labor available in Florida, Ag-Mart’s decision to shift grape production out of Florida to Mexico highlights many other issues (extreme weather, poor soil/ pest conditions, urban development, insurance, etc.) that hamstring the Florida tomato growers’ ability to compete. Ag-Mart’s other U.S. growing locations in New Jersey and North Carolina grow tomatoes in different seasons than Florida, and do not face these other issues to the same degree that they affect Florida tomatoes.
“Ag-Mart fully recognized that shifting grape tomato production from Florida to Mexico also makes sense because growing grape tomatoes in Mexico using protected agriculture (shade houses) is far better than growing grape tomatoes in Florida in open fields because it results in better and more consistent quality tomatoes and higher yields,” stated the FPAA.
FPAA also noted that FTE totally ignored the dramatically increased volatility of the U.S. tomato market if antidumping duties are imposed, compared with the stability and certainty provided by the floor Reference Price under the suspension agreement. Importers will have to deal with lengthy risks of antidumping duties increasing retroactively and paying increased amounts of collateral for surety bonds needed to cover antidumping duty entries. This uncertainty about the ultimate antidumping duty liability will be an accelerant to an increasingly volatile tomato market if the Reference Price system is terminated.
Founded in 1944 in Nogales, Arizona, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas has grown to become one of the most influential agricultural groups in the United States. Today, the FPAA provides a powerful voice for improvement and sustainability by serving the needs of more than 100 North American companies involved in the growth, harvest, marketing, import, and distribution of produce. For more information, visit www.freshfrommexico.com.