May/June 2022 - 33

Caution urged in latest Mexican
market reopening turn
Tell me if you've
Kam Quarles
Chief Executive
heard this one
before: An agreement
has been reached
between the U.S. and
Mexico to finally and
completely reopen
the Mexican market
to U.S. fresh and
processing potatoes.
While we are not
spiking the football
yet, USDA has made
significant progress in
getting us across the goal line.
In early April, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack met with Mexico Secretary of
Agriculture and Rural Development Victor
Villalobos in Mexico to discuss a number of
their shared priorities. Discussions focused
on agriculture trade, science-based policy
making, and sustainable and climate-smart
agricultural production.
Most notably for the U.S. potato industry,
at the conclusion of their meetings,
Secretaries Vilsack and Villalobos jointly
announced the two countries had concluded
all necessary plant health protocols and,
pending a final visit by Mexican officials to
California in April, the entire Mexican market
would be open " no later than May 15 " for all
U.S. tablestock and chipping potatoes.
During a press availability after the
meeting, Secretary Vilsack called Mexico's
agreement to live up to its trade obligations
to allow U.S. potatoes full access by May 15
the " most significant " announcement from
his visit with his Mexican counterpart.
The announcement also came closely on
the heels of an NPC-supported bipartisan
letter issued by U.S. Senators Jim Risch
(R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine), U.S.
Congressmen Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and
Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon), and 30 of their
congressional colleagues calling on USDA to
press its counter-agency in Mexico to honor
and expedite the U.S.-Mexico trade deal
restoring U.S. fresh potato exports to Mexico.
In response to the news out of Mexico, we
at the National Potato Council extended our
thanks to Secretary Vilsack and the teams at
USDA and USTR for their efforts to ensure that
Mexico lives up to its bilateral trade obligations.
However, given the history of this 25-year trade
dispute, we are reserving the right to declare
victory until we see durable exports of both
fresh processing and table stock potatoes
move throughout all of Mexico, as required
by the November 2021 signed agreement.
Additionally, we hope the April site visit
by Mexican officials will be the last hurdle
we need to clear and that no last-minute
roadblocks will be erected prior to Mexico
finally - and permanently - reopening its
border to U.S.-grown potatoes.
The stakes couldn't be higher. Mexico
is already the largest export market for
U.S. potatoes and products valued at
$394 million in 2021. And despite the
long-standing restriction of fresh potatoes
to a 26-kilometer border region, Mexico is
the second-largest market for fresh potato
Potatoes USA elected its board of
directors for 2022-23 at its annual meeting
in early March.
Allied Potato CEO Jason Davenport of
Bakersfield, California, was elected as
chairman of the board of directors. This
marks Davenport's sixth year on the board.
Also elected to the board were: Jeff
Jennings of Camden, North Carolina; Leah
Halverson of Grand Forks, North Dakota;
Shelley Olsen of Othello, Washington; Jared
Smith of Alamosa, Colorado; Mike Carter of
Rosholt, Wisconsin; Steve Elfering of Idaho
Falls, Idaho; Travis Meacham of Moses
Lake, Washington; Mike Larsen of Declo,
Idaho; Jennifer Gogan of Houlton, Maine;
and Jared Raybould, Saint Anthony, Idaho
(immediate past chairman).
exports accounting for 124,449 metric tons
valued at $60 million in 2021.
All told, the U.S. potato industry estimates
that access to the entire country for fresh
U.S. potatoes could provide a market
potential of $250 million per year, in five
years. That's no small potatoes.
This trade issue has dragged on far too
long, and we appreciate the support of the
highest levels of the federal government who
have weighed in on behalf of America's potato
growers. The bipartisan support we've achieved
is a direct result of potato growers who have
kept pressure on their elected officials during
the latest NPC Washington Summit and during
countless meetings and phone calls they've
initiated throughout the years. This potential
success demonstrates what can be done when
the industry unites behind a single cause and
jointly stands up for potatoes on Capitol Hill.
" Quality as High as our Mountains "
Office: (719) 274-5996
Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association
P. O. Box 267
Monte Vista, CO 81144
Spudman * May/June 2022

May/June 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May/June 2022

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