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Experts expect tomato prices to rise with end of trade agreement

TUCSON – The United States Department of Commerce is planning to withdraw from the Suspension Agreement on fresh tomatoes from Mexico.

If the agreement is ceased, it could mean the price of tomatoes could increase. According to a University of Arizona report, even with a five percent reduction in supplies of Mexican tomatoes, consumers could end up paying 25 cents more per pound with a total increase of $790 million more a year.

“The tomato industry is about almost one-third of the produce that’s imported into Arizona from Mexico,” Lance Jungmeyer said. “So any change would have a profound impact on the whole state.”

Lance Jungmeyer is the President of Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. He said the reason for not reaching an agreement is politics.

“We’re really worried because it’s taken a political bent to this,” Jungmeyer said. “The political pressure from Marco Rubio and some other congresspeople from Florida asked Secretary Ross to withdraw from the agreement and he did that.”

He said there is still a chance to renegotiate the suspension agreement, but it is not looking likely. That has Willy Martinez who is a manager at Wilson Produce in Nogales concerned.

“It can have very severe consequences to my company here in Nogales,” Willy Martinez said. “But also for a lot of companies in this area and a lot of companies throughout the border towns and border states.”

Price increases could go into effect in May when the agreement expires.

According to a University of Arizona study, in 2016, tomatoes imported from Mexico contributed $4.8 billion in sales into the U.S. economy.

Charity Freeman

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