Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam has applauded Florida’s tomato growers for tirelessly advocating for their right to fair competition.

After months of negotiations with the U.S. and Mexican tomato industries, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Saturday it had tentatively agreed to suspend the anti-dumping investigation of fresh tomatoes from Mexico.

Though Florida’s tomato growers had originally called for a withdrawal of the 2008 Suspension Agreement, the industry is hopeful the new agreement will restore fair trade to the exchange of fresh tomatoes between the United States and Mexico.

“I am pleased the American tomato farmers' concerns have been substantially addressed by this new agreement,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Trade agreements are only as good as the willingness to enforce them and, when they go unenforced, the American worker loses out.”

“I am grateful to Undersecretary Sanchez for his leadership and dedication to resolving this complicated dispute. I will continue to work with my colleagues across the country to make sure that our food supply remains a national security priority.”

The tentative agreement, which is open to public comments through Feb. 11, broadens the coverage of Mexican imports and enhances enforcement of U.S. antidumping laws. The deal is expected to take effect on March 4. 

In 2012, Florida’s tomato industry filed a request with the U.S. Department of Commerce to withdraw the 1996 antidumping petition and terminate the 2008 suspension agreement. Commissioner Putnam voiced his support for this request in a letter to the Secretary of Commerce.

The 1996 anti-dumping petition was intended to uphold U.S. anti-dumping laws and provide relief from unfairly traded imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico.

The 2008 Suspension Agreement, which resulted from the 1996 anti-dumping petition, was intended to prevent trading partners from undercutting U.S. prices and devastating domestic production.

The 2008 Suspension Agreement, however, did little to ensure fair trade. Florida’s tomato growers struggled to compete in a market flooded by unprecedented imports of tomatoes from Mexico at prices well below the cost of production.

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