The Main Stream

Feb 8, 2013 9:10 PM by Lupita Murillo

Nogales produce owners concerned about tomato prices

NOGALES - Nogales produce distributors who import Mexican tomatoes say something is "rotten" in Florida.

Tomato growers there say tomatoes grown in Mexico are being sold below their price and what it costs to produce them. They took their complaints to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Recently, an agreement was reached between the U.S. government and Mexican tomato growers that reduces the threat of a costly trade war.

Mexico exports $1.9 billion worth of tomatoes to the U.S. Most of that comes through Nogales Arizona. Chamberlain Distributing is among the largest importers. A company that's been in business since 1971. Jaime Chamberlain is president of Chamberlain Distributors, he says he's pleased an agreement has been reached, but not happy at all about the terms.

"The affects could be long term and the effects will be deep and there will be financially painful for farmers, distributors , consumers, customers everyone."

The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas based in Nogales led the fight to come to an agreement, but is shocked by the amount of the increase. Lance Jungmeyer heads the association and says the price will almost double from what it is today.

"Tomatoes are one of the healthy things that Americans can eat. And they shouldn't pay more because a group of farmers in Florida wants to make more money."

Jungmeyer says, not only will the price go up, there's also a strong possibility that jobs in Nogales will be lost.

The final terms of the agreement will be made public next month.


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