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"If Mexicans can grow tomatoes year round, shouldn't we buy them?"

Florida tomato farmer Tony DiMare has a complaint about NAFTA. He says Mexican farmers are trading unfairly. How? By developing ways to produce tomatoes year-round and provide them in all seasons to consumers, at lower prices than many Florida farmers can afford to charge. But that isn’t trading unfairly; it’s trading efficiently. And isn’t that the goal of free trade?

In an interview with CNBC, DiMare inadvertently touched on the key question in any debate between free trade and protectionism: Is the principal purpose to coddle producers, or is it to ensure the best deal possible for consumers? Some tomato farmers may regard it as unfair when their Mexican counterparts manage to turn what was once open farm acreage into a greenhouse environment to facilitate year-round production. But consumers in Florida and all of the other states no doubt consider it more than fair. The end result: They can get a wider choice of tomatoes, at a lower price than they would otherwise pay, 52 weeks of the year.

Read the full column by Allan Golombek, Senior Director at the White House Writers Group, at RealClearMarkets.

Publication date: 1/31/2018

 


 

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