Tomato cliff: Group says prices could rise if Mexico pact ends

An unidentified tomato picker from Immokalee stands in front of Publix's newest store in Miami, Saturday, March 31, 2012, to demand that the grocery giant join the Fair Food Program.  (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

An unidentified tomato picker from Immokalee stands in front of Publix's newest store in Miami, Saturday, March 31, 2012, to demand that the grocery giant join the Fair Food Program. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

ST. PETERSBURG — An Arizona-based trade association is warning of a "tomato cliff" if the U.S. Department of Commerce terminates a fresh tomato importation trade agreement with Mexico at the request of Florida tomato growers.

The Fresh Produce Association of Americas, based in Nogales, Ariz., held a conference call with reporters on Thursday. The group sponsored a pricing study that said if Mexican tomatoes are forced to withdraw from the U.S. market, then prices for some hothouse tomatoes would double from $2.50 a pound to nearly $5 a pound.

Florida produces much of the nation's winter tomatoes.

Florida growers have complained that their Mexican counterparts have been taking advantage of the Tomato Suspension Agreement to "dump" their product in the U.S.

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