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Tomato Suspension Agreement to be a hot topic at Viva Fresh Expo

The 2019 Viva Fresh Produce Expo will host a workshop on Friday, April 26 focusing on the Tomato Suspension Agreement, an item that has become a hot topic during the last six months.  Moderated by Dante Galeazzi, president and chief executive officer of the Texas International Produce Association, a panel of experts will review the history of this agreement and discuss potential changes that could impact the future of the supply chain, including regulatory issues, tariffs, duties and pricing along with the status of current negotiations.  Dante-headshot1Dante Galeazzi

This past February, the Department of Commerce announced its intent to withdrawal from the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico, rescinding the five-year sunset review of the suspended investigation and the administrative review of the 2013 agreement, and to resume the antidumping duty investigation initiated in 1996.

“This withdrawal stands to create dramatic changes in how Mexican tomato imports are handled,” said Galeazzi.  “We felt it was important to include this workshop in our Friday sessions to help educate the industry on what to expect and from a business perspective, how supplies could look moving forward.”   

Galeazzi will facilitate the workshop with the following panel of expert speakers:  

  • Martin Ley, president of Fresh Evolution, has represented the Mexican tomato industry in a variety of significant landmarks, including Tomato Suspension Agreement negotiations, Food Safety Tomato Metrics Development, the Salmonella SaintPaul Investigation and the Harvard-FDA-Industry Traceability Initiative. Among other recognition, he’s been named FPAA and Texas International Produce Association’s 2011 Exporter of the Year. Ley serves on FPAA’s board and executive committee and CPMA’s North American Trade Committee. He also served as the PMA vice chair of produce safety, the science and technology committee, the leadership committee, and is a member of the PTI leadership council.
  • Jason Klinowski is an agricultural and food law attorney at Wallace, Jordan, Ratli & Brandt LLC. Klinowski advises clients on a range of business and legal issues, including USDA and FDA regulatory compliance, supply chain and distribution transactions, and federal litigation. His civil practice focuses on representing agribusinesses and food companies in complex commercial litigation, including bankruptcy matters and general counseling, where he works primarily on matters arising under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Federal Food Drug & Cosmetic Act, the Plant Protection Act, the Packers & Stockyard Act, the Capper-Volstead Act, the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 and other federal and state agricultural statutes.
  • J.O. Alvarez is president of J.O. Alvarez Inc. With offices throughout the southern border and Mexico, J.O. Alvarez Inc. has been in operation since 1957. Alvarez was born in Laredo, TX, where he studied and got his custom broker’s license in 1981. He is also president of 4 Logistics LLC, SE-Transport, LLC, Cross Border Logistics Transport, JOA ColdPoint LLC and a member of the Alvarez Family Partnership.

“This session is a timely opportunity to discuss the challenges ahead for both U.S. and Mexican suppliers of fresh tomatoes related to the changing agreement. Currently 60 percent of the fresh U.S. tomato supply comes from imported products and any significant change will be disruptive for the entire supply chain. It’s important to help everyone better understand the issue,” said Melinda Goodman, managing partner of Full Tilt Marketing and chair of the Viva Fresh education committee.  

The Tomato Suspension Agreement workshop will take place on Friday, April 26 in Grand E-F at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa as part of the Friday education sessions at the Viva Fresh Produce Expo.   Admission into the educational events is included with registration for Viva Fresh attendees and exhibitors. Visit www.vivafreshexpo.com for more information on the Viva Fresh Educational Sessions, registration details, or general questions about the show.