Made up of 80 businesses and organizations

Coalition formed to keep Tomato Suspension Agreement

A coalition of nearly 80 businesses, industry associations, and local and county governments says it has strong concerns over the Department of Commerce’s recently announced intention to withdraw from the 2013 Tomato Suspension Agreement.

The coalition, led by the Border Trade Alliance, sent a letter to Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross on Wednesday in response to last month’s announcement by the Commerce Department that the U.S. would exit the agreement by May 7, at which point importers begin facing hundreds of millions of dollars in duties.

“This letter sends the message loud and clear that the business community and affected local governments believe that withdrawing from the agreement that has governed cross-border tomato trade since 2013 risks tremendous harm to the U.S. economy,” BTA Chair Paola Avila said.

The letter to Commerce references a recent University of Arizona study that finds that tomato imports are responsible for more than 30,000 U.S. jobs and nearly $3 billion in U.S. GDP.

“There are too many jobs and too much economic activity connected to the tomato trade to sacrifice them for certain regional agricultural interests’ attempts to tilt the rules of trade in their favor,” BTA President Ms. Britton Clarke said. “Withdrawing from the Tomato Suspension Agreement could not only lead to retaliation from one of our leading trade partners, but could also complicate ongoing efforts to adopt the USMCA.”

The full letter to the Department of Commerce is below.



March 6, 2019

Hon. Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Ross:

The undersigned members of the American trade community write to you today regarding our strong concerns over efforts from certain regional interests to curb the import of fresh tomatoes from Mexico. Erecting new barriers to trade in fruits and vegetables risks negatively affecting American consumers, the United States agriculture industry, and could jeopardize our country’s trading relationship with one of the U.S.’ leading export destinations, and potentially impact the USMCA ratification process.

Maintaining a healthy bilateral trade relationship with Mexico is essential to the continued growth of the American economy, while ensuring consumer access to affordable fresh produce, especially in cold-weather months. A recent study finds that tomato imports alone are responsible for over 30,000 U.S. jobs and support a supply chain that generates nearly $3 billion in U.S. GDP.

The U.S. is Mexico’s top agricultural trade partner, exporting $18 billion worth of products, which represents about 70 percent of Mexico’s agri-food imports. The agriculture sector is critical to the overall two-way goods and services trade between our two countries that supports an estimated five million U.S. jobs.

It is for these reasons that we urge the Department of Commerce to continue renegotiation for a Tomato Suspension Agreement that addresses U.S. grower concerns within U.S. trade law. Terminating the agreement risks retaliation to our domestic agriculture industry and creates economic uncertainty throughout the supply chain.

We encourage the Administration to continue to work toward crafting agricultural trade policy that seeks to strengthen the industry nationally, not that is calibrated around regional or seasonal interests. Therefore, we respectfully request that the Administration maintain the Tomato Suspension Agreement.

We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to your response.


1st Bank Yuma
Agri Packing Distributors, Inc.
Agri Packing Supply, Inc
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Associate Brokerage Co.
Atlas International Custom House Broker, Inc.
Bayer Crop Science
Border Pacific Railroad
Border Trade Alliance
Borderplex Alliance
Bright Group, LLC
Cameron County, Texas
Capin Vyborny, LLC
Chamberlain Distributing Inc.
Ciruli Brothers
Del Campo Supreme
Divine Flavor
Eagle Eye Produce
Farmer’s Best International, LLC
Flavor King Farms
Frank's Distributing of Produce
Fresh Farms
Fresh International
Fresh Produce Association of the Americas
G. Mendez & Company, Inc.
The Giumarra Companies
GR Fresh
Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port Authority
Grower Alliance
HM Distributors, Inc.
iDeal HarBest
IFCO Systems
International Agricultural Marketing Management, LLC
International Bank of Commerce
IPR Fresh
J.O. Alvarez, Inc.
K&K International Logistics
Kaliroy Fresh, LLC
Kingdom Fresh Farms
Klondike Cold Storage, Inc.
Lee Jones
Malena Produce, Inc.
Marengo Foods LLC
MAS Melons & Grapes
The City of McAllen, Texas
Mayer, Martinez & Associates
Nogales Santa Cruz County Economic Development Foundation
Pacific Brokerage
Pack Right LLC
Pandol Bros.
Peppers Plus Inc.
Port of Brownsville
Produce House
Red Sun Farms
R.L. Jones Customhouse Brokers
R.L. Jones of Texas
Rio Grande Valley Partnership
S&B Infrastructure, Ltd.
San Diego-Tijuana Smart Border Coalition
The City of San Luis, Arizona
Shannon Brokerage
Sierra seed Company
Starr-Camargo Bridge Co.
Strauns Customhouse Brokers
Suarez Brokerage Company, Inc.
The Sykes Company
Tepeyac Produce, Inc.
Texas International Produce Association
Tricar Sales, Inc
Triple H Produce
Valencia International Inc.
Vandervoet & Associates
Wholesum Family Farms, Inc.
Wilson Produce
Zira Food Safety

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