Wednesday, December 26, 2012

La Tomatina

When it comes to food fights, this is one predicted over 235 years ago;
In every country it always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it; nor could it ever have been called in question had not the interested sophistry of merchants and manufacturers confounded the common sense of mankind.
The interested sophistry in question comes via Florida, where some tomato growers have lots of reasons why Americans shouldn't have the right to buy the red stuff from those who will provide it at the lowest cost; 
Edward Beckman, president of Certified Greenhouse Farmers, a trade group for U.S. and Canadian growers, argues that conditions have changed.
The "current playing field is tilted completely against domestic interests, and we need to quickly address the unfair trade that exists," he said in a recent statement.

Reginald L. Brown, the president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, said the flood of Mexican tomatoes pushed the price so low last winter that the industry could not cover picking and packing costs.
"The U.S. industry has a right to defend itself," Brown said. 
To defend itself by quashing the right of 300 million Americans to buy tomatoes from whom they choose.  But, it turns out that there are some other commercial interests who aren't just sitting down and taking it;
Richard Fimbres, a member of the Tucson City Council ....wrote to President Obama last month, declaring that "we can't turn our back on the global economy now."
The reason is fresh Mexican tomatoes are big business in Arizona. Much of the $2 billion in business passes through the state, benefiting local importers and distributors.
But the benefits go beyond them. More than 370 businesses and trade groups — from small family-run importers on the Mexico border to Wal-Mart Stores — have written or signed letters to the Commerce Department in favor of continuing the deal.
Kevin Ahern, the chief executive of Ahern Agribusiness in San Diego, was among them. His company sells about $20 million a year in tomato seeds and transplants to Mexican farmers.
"Yes, Mexico produces their tomatoes on average at a lower cost than Florida; that's what we call competitive advantage," Ahern said in an email. Without the agreement to provide "stability to a volatile market, Mexican tomato acreage destined for U.S. markets will decline," he said, and that would damage his business.
While Florida growers contend the accord is hurting their business, the broader trade dynamics are generating business for other companies in the United States.
Which is what trade always does, just as Adam Smith explained to us back in 1776. 

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