U.S. Seed Potatoes Gain Market Access in Brazil, Nicaragua

The United States achieved official market access to export seed potatoes to Brazil and Nicaragua.

In 2005, the United States and Brazil established phytosanitary and certification criteria for shipping seed potatoes from the United States to Brazil. On Feb. 8, Brazil published the Normative (law) announcing access for U.S. seed potatoes.

The agreement was reached as a result of efforts by USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) working together to provide the Brazilian government with the information it needed.

“There were many people from both agencies involved and providing continual assistance,” said Leah Cochran, international marketing manager for the U.S. Potato Board’s (USPB) seed potato export program. “We are especially grateful for the diligence of Mark Knez, Bill Snell, Shirley Wager-Page and Thereza Barros from APHIS and Alan Hrapsky and William Westman from FAS.

“The USPB would also like to thank its Brazilian associate Marcos Bernardi and contractors Ed Missiaen, Peter Joyce and Rick Zink for their dedicated efforts to open this market.”

All of these efforts were made possible as a result of the U.S. potato industry’s Phytosanitary Initiative, supported by the National Potato Council, state potato grower organizations and the U.S. Potato Board and carried out by the firm of Bryant Christie Inc., Seattle, Wash.

The USPB initiated work in Brazil in 2001 by bringing Brazilian growers, importers and government officials to the United States to view seed production areas. In following years, different members of the Brazilian potato industry attended the USPB Seed Industry Tours, which are designed to prove the availability of high quality U.S. seed potatoes and certification standards. In November 2004, Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture officials came on an official visit to inspect seed production areas and learn about the certification process as part of the negotiations. The USPB also hired a university professor in Brazil to conduct the background work required for the Pest Risk Assessment carried out by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. All of these efforts were partially funded with USDA export development program funds including the Cochran Program, Market Access Program and Emerging Markets Program.

“Having the Normative published is the first step in opening the market, but there is still a lot of development work to do,” Cochran said. “For the past five years, Brazil’s average seed potato imports have been about 2,600 metric tons a year, with a value averaging over $1.5 million a year.”

To build a strong foundation for U.S. seed exports, the USPB is planning a potential trade mission to Brazil for U.S. seed growers in 2007, so they can learn about market demands and build relationships. In the meantime, Brazilians will participate in the 2007 Seed Industry Tour. Additionally, the USPB will continue to conduct variety trials in different growing regions of Brazil to gather data for registration. Brazil requires variety registration prior to commercial sales. Currently, there are less than five U.S. varieties registered.


The Protocol for the Shipment of Certified Seed Potatoes from the United States to Nicaragua, requested by the USPB in December 2005, was signed by the U.S. and Nicaraguan governments on Jan. 24. This formal agreement gives official market access for U.S. seed potatoes to be exported to Nicaragua.

It establishes the inspection and certification of quarantine and regulated non-quarantine pests, which will govern shipment of certified seed potatoes from the United States to Nicaragua. Additionally, it sets forth formal criteria that exporters must adhere to for shipping certified seed potatoes to Nicaragua. If the outlined health and labeling criteria are met, exporters and certifying officials will not be required to review the import permit prior to certification of shipments.

“APHIS wants U.S. seed potato exporters to be especially mindful of soil, since the protocols state seed must be ‘free of soil,’” Cochran said. “The U.S. Potato Board thanks APHIS for their assistance with this and other seed potato issues.”

For more information about the U.S. seed export program, call Leah Cochran at (303) 873-2323 or e-mail

Originally posted Friday, Feb. 17, 2006