/ Modified oct 15, 2019 9:40 a.m.

Florida tomato growers reignite anti-dumping battle with Mexican producers

The Florida growers are pushing to resume an investigation despite a hard-fought agreement between Mexican growers and the USDA.

checking tomatoes Workers sort through tomatoes at a packing plant in southern Sonora, Mexico.
Murphy Woodhouse/Fronteras Desk

Florida tomato growers are requesting the continuation of an anti-dumping investigation of fresh tomatoes from Mexico less than a month after a deal that put the investigation on pause.

Mexican tomato growers signed a hard-fought agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce on Sept. 19, suspending the anti-dumping investigation.

Now, the Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE) is pushing to resume the investigation anyway. It says it’s a safeguard to pressure Mexican growers to stick to the new deal.

"The FTE is taking this action reluctantly," it said in a news release. "The Department of Commerce did an excellent job under difficult circumstances negotiating the new suspension agreement, which the FTE continues to support. Unfortunately, the Mexican tomato industry does not agree and has signaled its intention to challenge the agreement legally and politically, even though they signed the agreement just last month."

But the call to restart the anti-dumping investigations comes as a surprise to tomato importers.

“We’re still analyzing what exactly it means," said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. "This is a new turn of events for sure.”

He said everyone is working to figure out what a renewed investigation would mean, but they're also working to prepare for the implementation of the September deal.

“We’re still not happy with a number of things that were put into the suspension agreement," he said, but added that preparations are "the only thing we can control.”

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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