Sep 20, 2021
Vilsack pens letter to NPC regarding fresh potatoes to Mexico

In response to NPC’s June 28 letter enlisting the Biden Administration’s support for full U.S. fresh potato access to Mexico, USDA Secretary Vilsack this week wrote to the industry saying that resolving this issue is a high priority for the department.

“I would like to thank you for your extensive efforts in pursuing full access to this key market,” the Secretary wrote NPC. “The positive Supreme Court ruling was an important step in the right direction for U.S. potato producers and Mexican consumers alike. However, it is clear that hurdles continue to exist.”

Tom Vilsack

“Resolving this longstanding trade issue is a high priority at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Our Foreign Agricultural Service teams in Mexico and Washington, D.C., are coordinating closely with other U.S. agencies, including USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, to advance these efforts. I have also met virtually with Secretary Villalobos and held numerous productive discussions regarding market access expansion for U.S. fresh potatoes. We will continue to utilize all opportunities for engagement with Mexico,” he wrote.

Notably, Secretary Vilsack said that once the market is expanded, he is committed to ensuring that “agricultural trade is not restricted without scientific justification.”

The full letter is available here.

House Dems drop tax increases on farms

Following public opposition from farm groups, including NPC and state potato organizations, House Democrats this week released a package of tax hikes to fund their $3.5 trillion spending plan that eliminated President Biden’s proposed increase on inherited property at death.

“The President’s proposed hikes would have forced family farms and ranches to disproportionately shoulder the burden of increased government spending,” said NPC President Dominic Lajoie, a grower from Maine. “NPC has argued that imposing a second death tax would have far-reaching negative impacts on family-owned businesses, their employees, and all those depending on them to deliver food to their dinner tables. This was why the NPC Board formally adopted a resolution at the 2021 Summer Meeting opposing the elimination or undercutting of these important tax provisions. With farms reeling from the pandemic’s continued impact on their businesses, now is not the time to impose additional burdens on America’s food producers.”

Earlier this year, NPC joined a group of nearly 330 ag groups on a letter urging the leaders of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees to preserve existing tax rules for inherited assets. That letter can be found here.

NPC welcomes nomination of USTR chief ag neotiator

President Biden this week nominated Elaine Trevino to be the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the Unites States Trade Representative (USTR). Trevino is currently the President of the Almond Alliance of California, where she helps advocate on regulatory and legislative issues in areas of international trade, food safety, water quality and availability, crop protection, air quality, worker safety, supply chain, and feed quality.

Previously, Trevino served as Deputy Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture for Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis. In this capacity, she had responsibility for the oversight of the international export and trade programs, specialty crop block grant funding, division of marketing services, plant health and pest prevention, and the statewide county fair network. Trevino was appointed by former Secretary Sonny Perdue to serve on USDA’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC).

“America’s potato growers welcome Ms. Trevino’s nomination and look forward to working with her to ensure improved and expanded market access for U.S. food and agriculture,” said NPC VP of Trade Affairs Jared Balcom, a Washington state potato grower. “With one out of every six rows of U.S. potatoes destined for foreign consumers, we appreciate her background as an advocate for opening international markets for products grown and produced by U.S. farmers and workers.”

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