Please Ask U.S. Department of Commerce to not break the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement
Grocery Stores and Convenience stores receive produce from all across the United States and the world. Although our independents favor locally grown produce, much of the produce comes from Mexico - especially in the offseason. Unfortunately, prices may increase due to a flawed reinterpretation of standard industry trade terms by the Department of Commerce regarding the 2019 Tomato Suspension Agreement (TSA). Currently, Commerce is weighing whether to formally adopt its reinterpretation. Congress should ask Commerce to retain the long-established definitions and practices that have enabled the tomato market to function.
To summarize, during a March 2021 webinar, Commerce mentioned that “FOB U.S. shipping point” refers to the U.S. side of the U.S. border, not the U.S. selling agent’s actual facility in the United States, as it has for decades (and since the predecessor to the TSA was first negotiated some 25 years ago). The reinterpretation would require U.S. selling agents of fresh Mexican tomatoes to add on top of the minimum reference price all movement and handling expenses after the border crossing to be in compliance with the TSA, which is not what has been occurring since TSA has been in place.
The reinterpretation would raise the carefully negotiated minimum prices by 10 percent or more, all without any input from the TSA signatories or the many U.S. companies that distribute or sell tomatoes. We are asking our Congressmembers to sign onto a letter to ask commerce to restore the long-established definitions and practices instead of this new interpretation. Click here if you are interested in reviewing the letter that we are asking the Congressional members to sign on to.