Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame
Paul J. DiMare
Affectionately known as “Mr. Tomato,” Paul J. DiMare is the largest grower of fresh-market tomatoes in the United States and one of the country’s most influential farmers. He has made major contributions to the industry in the areas of trade, product enhancement and public awareness.
DiMare was born on April 14, 1941, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After graduating from Georgetown University, he went to work for the family business, The DiMare Companies, which grow, pack and ship tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash. The DiMare Companies have operations in four states -- Florida, South Carolina, Massachusetts and California.
DiMare is not only one of Florida’s most successful growers, he is an industry leader. As chairman of the Florida Tomato Committee, DiMare helped bring about a number of positive changes for Florida farmers. He improved the quality of Florida tomatoes by implementing changes in grade standards, eliminating small tomatoes, and reducing box size. He was a strong supporter of research at the experiment stations to develop new breeds of tomatoes that would yield higher profits for producers.
An articulate and captivating speaker, DiMare has become the voice of the Florida tomato farmer. He uses his excellent communication skills and extensive knowledge of the industry to educate elected officials and the general public about issues affecting Florida growers. An outspoken advocate of fair trade, DiMare was instrumental in pushing the anti-dumping suit that led to the 1996 Tomato Suspension Agreement between the U.S. Department of Commerce and Mexican tomato growers. He has testified before Congress on the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trade Promotion Authority and trade in the Americas.
DiMare encourages Florida farmers to get involved in the political process in order to defend Florida agriculture against unfair trading practices. He is chairman and co-founder of Florida Farmers, Inc. (FFI), an advocacy group for Florida vegetable growers. With over 300 members fighting for fair trade and fair market access, FFI has been influential in reshaping trade policy in Tallahassee and Washington. FFI lobbied Congress for mandatory country-of-origin labeling on fruits and vegetables, and its efforts led to the inclusion of mandatory labeling in the 2002 Farm Bill. FFI has built alliances with consumer, labor and environmental groups to inform consumers about the differences between American-grown produce and produce grown in other countries.
DiMare contributes his time and expertise in service of the agriculture industry and his local community. He is active in the Dade County Farm Bureau and the Florida Tomato Exchange. He serves on the advisory board of Farm Share, a non-profit organization that works to alleviate hunger by recovering and distributing fresh food to America’s needy. He is founder and trustee of the Paul J. DiMare Charitable Foundation and a strong supporter of the State of Florida’s initiative to build affordable housing for farm workers.
DiMare has won accolades from all sectors of the agriculture industry. In 1992 he was named Agriculturist of the Year by the Greater Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce. In 1998 he was named Agriculturist of the Year by the Dade County Farm Bureau. He recently received an Award of Appreciation from Governor Jeb Bush.
DiMare lives in Coral Gables with his wife, Swannee. They have four grown children, Tony, Paul Jr., Scott and Gino. Tony and Paul Jr. are involved in the family agribusiness.