Bipartisan group seeks end to tomato agreement with Mexico

Bipartisan group seeks end to tomato agreement with Mexico

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, (R-Fla.) have gathered bipartisan support from dozens of House and Senate colleagues in a push to terminate the suspension agreement between the Department of Commerce and Mexican tomato growers.

Forty-six legislators have signed a letter from Rubio to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, urging him to immediately end the suspension agreement, which sets floor prices for Mexican tomatoes entering the U.S. and bars U.S. growers from seeking anti-dumping charges against Mexican exporters.

“The U.S. tomato industry has been the canary in the coal mine for domestic fruit and vegetable production over the last three decades,” Rubio said in a news release. “Immediately terminating the suspension agreement will reinvigorate the anti-dumping investigation on fresh tomatoes from Mexico and send the message that the U.S. will ensure vigilant enforcement of our existing trade laws and trade agreements.”

Yoho said the suspension agreement has U.S. growers at a disadvantage.

“The current dumping of produce by the Mexican government harms our tomato farmers and goes against existing trade protections,” he said in the release. “It is only prudent that the Department of Commerce terminates the suspension agreement immediately and renegotiates more favorable terms for US producers.”

Three such agreements have been negotiated over the past 22 years, according to the letter, but each have failed.

“We appreciate your team’s efforts to attempt to renegotiate improved terms,” according to the letter to Ross. “However, Mexican exporters have shown no interest in accepting a suspension agreement that would close the loopholes that permit them to continue dumping tomatoes and injuring American tomato growers and packers.”

Twenty-six legislators from Florida who signed the letter were joined by 20 legislators from 10 other states.