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International Trade Commission Rules Mexican Tomatoes Threaten U.S. Growers

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Friday that imported Mexican tomatoes threaten domestic producers.

That decision comes after the U.S. Department of Commerce determined in October that those tomatoes are being — or are likely to be — sold at an unfairly low price, or dumped on the U.S. market.

The Florida Tomato Exchange, which asked for a dumping investigation to be restarted shortly after a new import deal was signed, praised the ITC’s decision, saying it validates their long-standing concerns.

The Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas says it was disappointed by the ruling, adding that rising Mexican imports simply reflect U.S. consumers’ preference for the country’s output.

“Consumers prefer vine-ripened tomatoes, and this is why domestic gassed-green tomatoes continue to lose market share. We are disappointed that the USITC failed to recognize this simple reality,” FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer said in a release.

The ITC’s ruling means that the recently renegotiated tomato suspension agreement remains in effect.

“At this point we are preparing for the full implementation of the current suspension agreement,” said Scott Vandervoet, chairman of the FPAA’s board of directors.

That deal will bring much heavier inspection requirements, which Nogales importers say will be expensive and onerous to comply with. And if the deal is ended, a 21-percent duty would be imposed on Mexican tomatoes, which account for more than half of all sold in the U.S.

“We will remain very engaged with the Commerce Department to ensure that the inspection and compliance provisions of the new agreement are being followed and enforced properly,” said Michael Schadler, executive vice president of the FTE.

Murphy Woodhouse was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.