NOGALES, Ariz. – The Trump Administration imposed a tomato tariff on fresh tomatoes imported from Mexico that went into effect May 7.
Now, several Florida tomato growers are complaining that Mexico is undercutting them.
The Suspension Agreement 2013 between the Department of Commerce and Mexico stated that Mexican tomatoes cannot be sold below $8.30 a box.
“Unfortunately, this was a decision we feel was taken for political purposes,” said Lance Jungmeyer, who heads the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. “Florida is always a very popular battleground state for electoral votes and all kinds of votes.”
The recent tariff increase means trouble for the produce industry as it relates to tomatoes.
Guillermo Martinez is the general manager of Wilson Produce, one of the oldest distributors in Nogales.
The tomato industry was the first product to come through Nogales in 1895. Now with the recent changes, Martinez said he is concerned.
“It will diminish the amount of volume and that will mean less product and less jobs,” he said.
According to a recent study by the University of Arizona, about half of the tomatoes that come into the United States are from Mexico. It generates $4.8 billion in sales in the U.S. and Canada, creating 35,000 jobs.
Elias Rodriguez is the operations manager. He has been at Wilson Produce for six years.
He said everybody is concerned. He added they have no idea if people are going to have to look for other jobs or go into a different industry entirely.
Negotiations are still ongoing for a new agreement. However, until one is reached, be prepared to pay anywhere between 40 to 85 percent more for the tomato in your salad, salsa, and spaghetti sauce.