More than two weeks after the deal governing Mexican tomato imports was terminated, negotiations for a replacement agreement do not seem to be going well.
On Wednesday, Mexican growers put forward another proposal for a new tomato suspension agreement. They say it would beef up enforcement of import rules to “an unprecedented level,” according to a release.
But the Florida Tomato Exchange, which asked the U.S. Commerce Department to end the agreement last year, described it as a “step backward” in a statement.
With negotiations at an apparent impasse, Southern Arizona’s massive produce import industry is on edge.
“It’s just put a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.
He said that consolidation, fewer imports and job losses are likely consequences if a good new deal is not hammered out. Mexican tomatoes make up over half of the U.S. supply.