Jan 4, 2023Paul DiMare, tomato industry giant, dies
Paul DiMare, a man honored as a Florida agricultural giant and the voice of Florida’s tomato industry, has died. DiMare, 81, died on Friday, Dec. 30.
A funeral mass is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 6 at 12:00 p.m. at Epiphany Catholic Church, 8235 SW 57 Avenue, Miami, Florida. Following the funeral mass will be a committal service at 2:30 p.m., at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery, 11411 NW 25th St, in Doral, Florida.
DiMare was chief executive officer and president of DiMare Fresh and the DiMare Co., national tomato growing and fresh produce distribution operations. Based in based in Homestead, Florida, the DiMare Co. was the growing arm while DiMare Fresh, based in Arlington, Texas, was the repacking operation.
According to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame, DiMare was 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,” the organization stated. ”He has made major contributions to the industry in the areas of trade, product enhancement and public awareness.”
Born in 1941 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after graduating from Georgetown University, DiMare went to work for the family business, The DiMare Cos., which grows, packs and ships tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash. The DiMare Cos. operate in four states: Florida, South Carolina, Massachusetts and California, according to the hall of fame.
“DiMare is not only one of Florida’s most successful growers, he is an industry leader,” the hall of fame said. “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.”
In 2013, DiMare was honored by Southeast Produce Council which bestowed on him the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “Mr. DiMare joins a distinguished group of industry leaders to be honored,” the organization said. “Joe McGee of L&M Cos. was the first to receive the award in 2008, followed by Ferdinand Duda of A. Duda & Sons in 2009; Peter Pero of Pero Family Farms in 2010; Tommy Irvin, Georgia’s former commissioner of agriculture, in 2011; and Reggie Griffin of The Kroger Co. in 2012.”
A large philanthropist, DiMare contributed his time and expertise in service of the agriculture industry and his local community. He was 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 was chairman and co-founder of Florida Farmers, an advocacy group for Florida vegetable growers. He was active in the Dade County Farm Bureau and the Florida Tomato Exchange and served 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.
DiMare 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.
“A giant of the tomato industry, Paul will be greatly missed,” Nance wrote. “Always a leader and innovator, I enjoyed my work, years ago, with him and his sons Tony and Scott. As friendly competitors, we worked together for the betterment of the Florida tomato industry and to always produce the very best product for customers and the nation.”
DiMare lived in Coral Gables with his wife, Swannee. The couple had four children: Tony, Paul, Jr., Scott and Gino. Tony and Paul, Jr., are involved in the family agribusiness.
In February, as DiMare Fresh started its 94th year, Paul DiMare announced sons Tony and Scott DiMare would assume expanded leadership roles in the family business.