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Mexican potato farmers vow to ‘keep up fight against US imports’

Mexico’s Supreme Court refused two weeks ago for the second time in six weeks to make a ruling that could allow substantial new access to the Mexican market worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually for U.S. potatoes, fueling the determination of Mexican farmers to continue their fight against the trade.

Bill Tomson, Senior Trade Editor at Agri-Pulse, reports that Kam Quarles, CEO of the U.S.-based National Potato Council, says politics and pressure from the Mexican potato industry to stave off competition are key factors behind the multiple delays. But Mexico’s National Federation of Potato Producers (CONPAPA) insists the justices are simply taking more time to educate themselves on the pest and disease threats from U.S. imports.

The U.S. exports about $60 million worth of fresh spuds across the southern border every year despite a major Mexican trade barrier that only allows U.S. imports within 26 kilometers of the border. That could rise as high as $200 million per year if the court rules to give U.S. potatoes full access to the Mexican market. That’s still a relatively small portion of the $19.1 billion worth of total U.S. ag exports to Mexico in 2020, according to USDA data.

“The (Mexican) potato growers will keep fighting to protect Mexican phytosanitary measures,” CONPAPA President Gerardo García Menaut told Agri-Pulse. “The farmers are not against commerce … but they are focused on protecting plant health. They are trying to protect themselves.”

But Quarles says what the Mexican farmers are trying to protect is their ability to market their potatoes with less competition from U.S. producers. Hopes were high last week that Mexico’s Supreme Court would rule in favor of U.S. imports, but when the justices gathered to consider cases on the docket last Wednesday, they again deferred ruling on the potato trade case.

Source: AgriPulse. Read the full report here

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