(Nov. 18) So, the deal is done.

Peace once again reigns in the tomato industry on both sides of the U.S. border with Mexico.

The hope, from this quarter, is that it is a sustained peace.

The new suspension agreement isn’t perfect. What product of a drawn-out, give-and-take negotiation process is? What’s more important, for the moment, is that tomatoes will cross the border without the accompaniment of shrill cries of unfairness that seem to have been the real stock and trade of tomato producers in both countries.

For too long the tomato importers and exporters in the U.S. and Mexico — as well as Canada — have found it too easy to include the court system in their supply chain.

The focus of the latest round of negotiations — and the centerpiece of the new agreement — is the enforcement issue. Industry leaders in the U.S. have claimed for years that their government was not following through with tough penalties promised in the original 1996 agreement. Now, with the prospect of fines and jail time hanging over potential violators, perhaps adherence to the rules will be more universal.

The trick for enforcement agents at U.S. Customs is to back up their threats with action. Nothing will demonstrate the integrity of the law more fully than relentless enforcement. That’s the least that this new agreement can do.

Unfortunately, it’s also the most. A new agreement ideally would have included an improved price structure. Costs of production have risen steadily since the original suspension agreement was implemented in 1996. Yet the reference price has not been allowed to keep pace.

It doesn’t change in the new suspension agreement, either. That bodes ill for the long-term prospects of success for this accord. At some point, price issues will have to be addressed, or the whole thing will come crashing down, much like the old deal did.

But, for the time being, it’s time to celebrate a new agreement. It’s not a perfect situation and shouldn’t be considered such. But it’s a start, a foundation on which to build trust and strengthen the tomato business on both sides of the border.