Lawmaker Pushes for Improvements to Seasonal, Perishable Crop Protections in Trade Agreements

Tomato production in the United States continues the steady decline it has seen since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992. Florida Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-FL-03) says the decline is primarily caused by imports of tomatoes from Mexico, a fact backed up by a detailed report from the University of Florida.

“It started under NAFTA where there wasn’t the acknowledgment that our producers, particularly tomatoes, would be hit hardest under NAFTA. As a result of years of hard work, there was a tomato suspension agreement that was put into place which was designed to protect our domestic tomato farmers. What we have seen, though, is a lack of enforcement.,” she said.

The tomato suspension agreement was created in 1996 to keep Mexican tomatoes from flooding the U.S. market. Cammack says it is a vivid example of how the nation’s seasonal and perishable crop producers need more protection in trade agreements. She had a recent meeting at the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.

“I talked about this issue, and I also talked about the lack of enforcement with the tomato suspension agreement and he’s well aware and you know said it would be better if we could do a legislative fix because the politics of the administration don’t seem to jive with us protecting our domestic producers,” she said. “So, I think it’s interesting that you have people within the administration saying if you could give us a legislative fix, we would rather do that than try to do it through the administrative state.”

NAFTA was replaced with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in 2020. The tomato suspension agreement was last updated in 2019.

Click below for Sabrina Halvorson’s radio news report for Michigan Ag Today.

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