Mexican Tomatoes, Strawberries Worry Fla. Growers

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WINTER GARDEN, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's tomato and strawberry growers say they're fighting a rising tide of cheaper produce imports from Mexico.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mexican strawberry imports jumped 142 percent from 2008 to 2011.

USDA figures also show that Mexican tomato imports rose 43.7 percent from 2008 through 2011.

Those numbers reflect Mexican imports of round tomatoes grown in open fields and in covered areas such as greenhouses. Those varieties most directly compete with Florida round tomatoes, the dominant variety grown here.

An agricultural economist at the University of Florida tells The Ledger that Florida growers should consider shifting more of their farming to greenhouses and other closed environments if they want to compete.

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