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US potato farmers seek new trade deal with Mexico to ‘level the playing field’

Potato farmers are asking U.S. agricultural officials for support in expanding export trade into Mexico, writes Noi Mahoney in Freight Waves.

Currently, American potato farmers and exporters are mostly barred from selling fresh potatoes in Mexico due to restrictions by the Mexican government, namely that U.S. growers can only sell fresh potatoes within a 26-kilometer (about 16-mile) zone across the Mexican border, Mahoney writes.

Mexican government officials have cited pest control concerns as the reason for not allowing U.S. potato exports deeper into Mexico. The majority of U.S. potato exports headed south remains dehydrated and frozen potatoes, which currently have no restrictions or tariffs against them.

“The U.S. ships frozen potatoes, dehydrated potatoes and fresh potatoes to Mexico, but fresh potatoes do not have full access into Mexico,” said Shawn D. Boyle, president and general counsel of the Idaho Growers Shippers Association. 

Recently, the Idaho Growers Shippers Association, the National Potato Council and a dozen other U.S. state and regional potato associations sent a “thank you” letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for voicing support for the U.S. potato industry.

In the letter to Perdue, U.S. potato growers noted they have sought full access to Mexico for more than 16 years without success. During that same period, the U.S. has become the top market for Mexican avocados, selling $2.35 billion in 2018.

Read the full report on Freight Waves here

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