Aug 19, 2019
Perdue pushes for fresh US potatoes to Mexico, industry says ‘thank you’

US Mexico flagsU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has been vocal in support of more U.S. potato access to Mexico, and the potato industry, led by the National Potato Council, has acknowledged it in a letter to him.

In a recent House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on whether to grant Mexico further access to a $2 billion U.S. avocado market, Perdue suggested any further avocado access for Mexico should include more U.S. fresh potatoes being allowed to Mexico.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) stated: “I sent you a letter along with other Texas Members and we are still waiting for a response. There’s an APHIS final rule published May 28, 2016 dealing with avocados. We are waiting for the required operation workplan that has to be signed where we bring in from the state of Jalisco. Right now, we are just dealing with the state of Michoacán, but we’re trying to expand and make sure there’s no risk to the public. If you haven’t seen it, please sign it.”

Perdue responded: “I know this is important to Mexico. We would also like to resolve the potato issue.”

The letter, penned by the National Potato Council, thanked Perdue for standing up for the potato industry.

“Though we recognize that the two market access issues cannot be formally linked, as they must be considered both by Mexico and the U.S. based upon the best available science, it makes great sense that their parallel paths should be concluded concurrently,” the letter stated. “Providing enhanced access for Mexican avocado farmers absent a reciprocal benefit to U.S. potato producers would be a missed opportunity and serve to compromise a potential $150-plus million annual export market.”

The full letter can be found here.

In addition to the NPC, the letter to Perdue was signed by numerous state potato commissions, including from Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as the Idaho Grower Shippers Association.

Over the past 16 years, Mexico has largely kept their market to U.S. fresh potatoes closed. During that same timeframe, Mexico has received access to the U.S. for their avocado exports and grown them to $2 billion annually, and is seeking further access. A USDA decision on whether to grant more access is pending.

If opened, the Mexican market for U.S. fresh potatoes is potentially valued at over $150 million annually. A Mexican Supreme Court decision on allowing U.S. access is anticipated by Thanksgiving.

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