Agriculture Controlled Environment Agriculture Economy Government

The Tomato Suspension Agreement: A Pillar of U.S.-Mexico Trade

NatureSweet and a coalition of stakeholders urge the U.S. Department of Commerce to retain the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement.
Key Takeaways:
  • NatureSweet, backed by tomato producers and trade associations, urges the U.S. Department of Commerce to uphold the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement.
  • Termination of this agreement could see tariffs of over 20% on imported fresh tomatoes, impacting companies like NatureSweet and potentially raising consumer prices.
  • Almost all grape and cherry tomatoes consumed in the U.S. are sourced from Mexico, offering year-round availability due to favorable growing conditions.
  • NatureSweet, a leader in the tomato industry, not only provides fresh produce but also supports over 6,000 agricultural jobs in North America.
  • The recent compliance audit found no significant agreement violations, and a coalition of over 400 companies urges the Commerce Department to maintain the agreement.

The Tomato Suspension Agreement has been a cornerstone of U.S. trade relations with Mexico for over two decades, ensuring fair trade practices and a stable fresh tomato market. Recently, a proposal by a group of domestic tomato producers to terminate this agreement has sparked considerable debate.

NatureSweet, a pioneering brand in the snacking tomato sector based out of Texas, has raised its voice in this debate. With the backing of many stakeholders, including other tomato producers, trade associations, and leaders from various states, the company has submitted an appeal to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The collective message is clear: the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement is vital for the stability and fair practices of the fresh tomato market.

The implications of terminating this agreement are profound. NatureSweet, and many others, would face substantial tariffs, potentially more than 20%, on importing fresh tomatoes into the United States. Such a move would inevitably impact the prices of tomatoes on American grocery store shelves, a staple in many households.

Skip Hulett, Vice President of General Counsel for NatureSweet, points out the significance of this agreement, especially for specialty tomatoes. He notes, “Nearly all of the grape and cherry tomatoes consumed by American families come from Mexico, where growing conditions are ideal for year-round production.” This assertion underscores the dependence of the U.S. market on Mexican imports for consistent tomato supply.

But it’s not just about tomatoes. NatureSweet, with a legacy of over 30 years, has been instrumental in transforming the lives of agricultural workers in North America. The company prides itself on offering year-round employment, paying wages significantly higher than the median for agricultural workers, and facilitating access to better medical care and education. A tariff would not just hit the company’s bottom line but could also jeopardize these commendable initiatives.

This plea to preserve the agreement is not a lone voice in the wilderness. A recent compliance audit by the Department of Commerce found no significant breaches by tomato importers. Furthermore, a powerful coalition of over 400 companies spread across 32 states has rallied to support the agreement, emphasizing its importance to the U.S. and Mexican economies.

About NatureSweet

Renowned as the go-to brand for greenhouse-grown vegetables, NatureSweet® stands out as North America’s largest vertically integrated agriculture company. With a dedicated workforce of over 6,000, the company ensures that its range of tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers reaches consumers at the peak of freshness. NatureSweet’s commitment to positive societal, environmental, and economic impacts has earned it B Corp, Fair Trade, and the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) certifications, making it a global leader in Controlled Environment Agriculture.

Photo by Ed O’Neil on Unsplash 

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