Mexican Tomato Growers have submitted a new proposal to the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding a new agreement covering imports of tomatoes from Mexico. Commerce terminated the previous agreement on May 7. This proposal includes:
- New reference prices with increases of up to 180 percent for expanded categories of tomatoes.
- Expansion of the USDA marketing order on tomatoes to cover all categories of tomatoes, which would bring enforcement to the border for the first time, with tomatoes that fail the marketing order being denied entry into the United States.
- Removal of 100 percent of defective product from the U.S. market through return to Mexico over a certain threshold, and destruction supervised by USDA for the remainder.
- New penalties for shipments that are above a certain level of defective product.
- Expansion of the formal process for considering alleged agreement violations.
- Elimination of sales under another company's signatory number to deter circumvention.
- Submission of voluminous amounts of sales, volume, customer and contract data, all subject to Commerce Department verification.
- Linkage of the suspension agreement provisions to PACA penalties.
- Submission of certified statements that could lead to civil penalties if false.
The only area the Mexican growers have not considered is the request by the Florida Tomato Exchange to restrict the rights of U.S. buyers to liquidated damages for breach of warranty. While breaches of warranty do not occur often, the Mexican growers do not have the legal right to deny damages. In order to even consider such a proposal, the Mexican growers asked for formal opinions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the rights of U.S. buyers can be restricted.