This article fails to address the crucial issues. Terminating the Suspension Agreement, which sets a minimum price for tomatoes from Mexico, is not intended to “boost the fortunes” of some but rather to promote fair trade.
The current agreement does not account for the changing marketplace, enforcement and circumvention of the agreement, and the lack of a standard definition for greenhouse-grown produce.
The agreement was put in place at a time when the market was dominated by field tomatoes. Today, more than 50% of tomatoes sold at retail are marketed as greenhouse-grown, and yet the current agreement does not account for the higher cost of production. There is also evidence that some growers are abiding by the reference point on tomatoes but selling other products below cost.
Most important, the lack of a national definition for “greenhouse,” combined with the increasing popularity of greenhouse-grown produce, is causing some growers and shippers to mislabel their products as greenhouse when in fact they are not.
What’s needed is a solution that addresses not only price inequalities but also the numerous unfair practices that make it difficult for U.S.-based growers to compete.
The writer is president of Certified Greenhouse Farmers, a trade association that seeks to protect the integrity of the greenhouse-growing process.