(Nogales, AZ) – In a landmark visit, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) was honored to host the Honorable Governor Katie Hobbs at its headquarters for a roundtable discussion. The visit, which included a panel discussion with leaders in the produce industry, brought to light vital topics such as the effort to preserve the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement (TSA), port of entry challenges, staffing issues, and area infrastructure needs.

Governor Hobbs, opening the discussion, emphasized the critical importance of the produce industry and international trade. Echoing this sentiment, Chief Executive Officer Paul Brierley from the Arizona Department of Agriculture pointed out Nogales’ pivotal role for the industry.

The session, with insights from industry experts, dived into a discussion of the 2019 TSA. The discussions highlighted Governor Hobbs’ commitment to supporting the TSA and addressing local challenges that would harm Arizona businesses if the agreement were terminated.

“Governor Hobbs truly understands the value that Arizona’s tomato distributors bring to the state, and the companies and their employees have told me how much they appreciate that,” said FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer. “The industry brings in over $1 billion in economic value to the state.”

To identify the inner workings of the industry, Governor Hobbs toured the Divine Flavor warehouse, led by COO and General Manager Jose Antonio Martinez. This tour shed light on the important aspects of produce logistics, including quality inspections conducted in coordination with Arizona Department of Agriculture and U.S. Departments of Agriculture. The ADA stressed the cooperative efforts between the industry and the ADA in ensuring efficient inspections at local warehouses.

The visit ended in a Stakeholder Roundtable at the DeConcini Port of Entry. This session addressed pressing issues such as resources for humane migrant services, port modernization, customs staffing, and funding for transportation infrastructure.

Governor Hobbs’ visit marks a significant step towards collaborative efforts between FPAA and the Governor’s Administration, aiming to strengthen the produce industry, spur economic development, and build a resilient community. The FPAA extends heartfelt gratitude to all hosts, speakers, and participants for their invaluable contributions to this impactful day of dialogue and discovery.