May 2, 2023Vilsack pushes for increased access to Japanese market during ag ministers meeting
During a meeting of agriculture ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations April 22-23 in southwestern Japan, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack pushed for more access for U.S. fresh potatoes in the Japanese market.
In recorded remarks to reporters posted on the USDA’s website, Vilsack said he talked with Tetsuro Nomura, Japanese minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, about “the importance of continued expansion of access for our potato and apple crops” during the G7 Agriculture Ministers Meeting in Miyazaki, Japan.
Increased fresh potato access to Japan is gaining traction as a topic, with the National Potato Council making the subject a priority issue for 2023. Growers advocated for congressional support during the NPC Washington Summit earlier this year, and NPC CEO Kam Quarles wrote about the issue for the May/June issue of Spudman magazine.
“Although the U.S. has been able to export chipping potatoes to Japan since 2006 (and that market has grown considerably), we are seeking to enhance that market access to include all fresh potatoes, including table stock,” Quarles wrote. “Once opened, Japan will become another massive market for U.S. fresh potato exports, estimated at $150 million to $200 million annually (representing a 10% to 15% increase in global U.S. fresh potato exports). “
Quarles said full access to the Japanese market has been requested for almost 30 years, with a risk analysis of U.S. fresh potatoes conducted by Japan in 2006.
“All Japanese technical concerns were addressed with comprehensive mitigations from the U.S. at that time,” Quarles wrote. “There is no valid reason for the Japanese government’s refusal to negotiate with USDA and for this valuable market to remain closed.”
Vilsack said he and Nomura committed to “ongoing sustainable dialogue” similar to what the U.S. enjoys with the European Union.
“This will be a regular cadence of contact and communication between my department and his ministry in an effort to promote sustainable agricultural production in both countries and to share best practices,” Vilsack said. “This is a strengthening of that relationship and, again, a very important market for us.”
The G7 agriculture ministers also discussed ways of ensuring stable food supplies in the face of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. The G7 includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S., plus the European Union.
“As food supply and demand change drastically around the world, agricultural policies in each country are at a historic turning point,” Nomura said in opening remarks reported by The Japan Times.