(March 15) Nogales, Ariz., tomato distributors have met to evaluate possible changes to the suspension agreement between Mexican growers and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The March 13 meeting was at the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas office in Nogales, but president Lee Frankel said the confidential meeting was only a prelude to real progress on the suspension agreement.

He noted the Commerce Department has had some meetings with affected industries in the U.S. and Mexico, but it will be April at the earliest before negotiations are finished in regard to retooling and renewing the original 1996 agreement that set a minimum price for Mexican tomatoes in exchange for a suspension in the U.S. dumping investigation.

“We in the industry are attempting to analyze everything to make the enforcement more consistent,” he said. Frankel said much of the U.S. industry seemed to be focused on the U.S.- Canada tomato disputes, delaying progress on the Mexican-U.S. tomato dispute.

The U.S. has brought an antidumping action against Canadian greenhouse tomatoes, while Canada has accused the U.S. of dumping all tomatoes.

Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, Orlando, Fla., was in Washington, D.C., on March 14, lobbying for an extension of methyl bromide use.

“The only thing I’ve heard is that the Commerce Department and Mexican growers are continuing to have discussions. Their concern for enforceability is comparable to ours,” he said.