LAKELAND – A food researcher has published a report showing tomato imports from Mexico could cost American growers as much as $252 million per year – a 27% drop in revenue – if they increase by 50% in coming years.  

Zhengfei Guan, the associate professor of food and resource economics at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, based his figures on historical trends. 

Related:Mexican imports continue to hurt Polk produce farmers, annual Florida agriculture report shows

Citrus crop forecast:Citrus consultant Elizabeth Steger forecasts Florida orange crop to fall by 1.5%

“The findings from our study will provide tomato producers and policy makers with important insights on the challenges and the sustainability of the U.S. tomato industry,” Guan said. 

He looked at imports of fresh-market tomatoes from Mexico.Thanks in part to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was ratified by Canada, Mexico and the United States in 1993, the volume of Mexican tomatoes entering the U.S. market went from 883 million pounds to 3,740 million pounds between 1993 and 2019. That amounts to a 424% increase.