Mexican proposal puts more limits on potato trade

12/28/2012 03:18:00 PM
Coral Beach

(UPDATED COVERAGE, Jan. 3) Potato industry leaders are saying an unexpected turnaround by the Mexican government concerning potato import rules would further restrict U.S. access rather than expand it.

For a decade the two countries and potato industry leaders have been working to increase access for U.S. growers. Fresh potatoes from the U.S. are restricted to a 16-mile border zone in Mexico.

In September it looked like the invisible line would be erased because the Mexican government published a proposed rule for full access. It was expected to become law this month. That proposal included mitigation measures for six pests identified by an international panel of experts as the only ones likely to cause problems for Mexico’s potato industry.

Keeling“In November they published a document ignoring the experts and naming 80 pests,” said John Keeling, chief executive officer for the National Potato council, Washington, D.C.

The Nov. 20 proposed rule also calls for irradiation of potatoes being imported into Mexico. Keeling said the combined effect of that requirement and the list of 80 pests will further restrict U.S. exports of fresh potatoes to Mexico, rather than open up the country as was detailed in a 2003 market access agreement.

The Mexican government is accepting comments on the proposed rule for 60 days after the Nov. 20 publication date. Comments must be submitted in Spanish and “must be of a scientific and technical basis,” according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The USDA report includes additional details on how to comment.

Keeling said it is not clear why the Nov. 20 proposal is so different than the one published in September. He has hopes the election of Mexico’s new president Enrique Pena Nieto will help with efforts to restore the previous plan.

“We are encouraging (growers and exporters) to submit comments describing their mitigation measures,” Keeling said.

Some in the fresh produce industry believe the about face on the potato rule is a retaliatory move by Mexico in response to Florida tomato growers challenging the suspension agreement for their commodity.

However, Keeling doesn’t think the trade issues are dependent on each other.

“When you have a trade dispute as big as the tomato agreement it of course colors all aspects of trade,” Keeling said Jan. 2.


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Larry Harrison    
Arizona  |  December, 28, 2012 at 07:58 PM

Why would the 5 rulling famialies give up a slice of the pie? Everything is controled thru them, from Seed, acarage, and Marketing.

andy    
mex  |  December, 30, 2012 at 10:44 PM

Mexico dosent need to open up de borders to the american potatoes. There is enough mexican potatoes in the market and the prices are very low for the growers. If this happen prices are going to be lower than the cost production. This would kick out of the market the mexican growers.

Bill    
McAllen  |  December, 31, 2012 at 02:26 PM

They will allow smuggled in and they will tun their head. Cost 10,000.00 per load why would they want legal in.... Their is no money In legal Spuds going in they like the contraband just like the Apples get a judge to approve it and see how much money the officials will make.

Max    
Immokalee  |  January, 02, 2013 at 08:58 AM

I have a comment, Close the Border to ALL Traffic!

Charlie    
California  |  January, 02, 2013 at 09:07 AM

Could this be the opening salvo from Mexico retaliating for the administration's stance on Mexican tomatoes? The potato industry refused to weigh in on this issue. I hope this doesn't get worse.

Gil    
Nogales  |  January, 02, 2013 at 09:41 AM

“Mexico shoots another one across the bow”, or… “You say Tomato, I say Potato”… let’s call the whole thing off.

Chuck    
Fla  |  January, 02, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Why don't we impose the same pest list for imported Mexican tomatoes? Potatoes have many common pests and diseases with tomatoes both being in the same family of plants. Of course this would require some "huevos" by the Americans in these negotiations. I thought we have free trade with Mexico, we all now see it is selective free trade usually at the behest of the American farmer.

dhinds    
Guadalajara  |  January, 03, 2013 at 09:03 PM

An unthinkable option for anyone not from Florida.

dhinds    
Guadalajara  |  January, 03, 2013 at 09:16 PM

Neither the September nor the November Policies reflect the position of the Mexico's current Federal Government, which took office in December, so it's too soon to tell what the new Administration's stance will be be. Mexico's new Secretary of Agriculture was Governor of the Border State of Coahuila, which could favor increased flexibility. Additionally, the current POTUMS (President of the United Mexican States) is more Statesman-like and less combative than his predecessor. In view of the above, I predict a favorable solution to BOTH Ag Trade problems for all concerned (except perhaps for Florida). -)

Paul    
Idaho  |  January, 07, 2013 at 06:03 PM

Agree, let´s close the border to all.

Peter    
USA  |  January, 07, 2013 at 06:44 PM

We care of our soil, I don´t want Mexican soil or Mexican seed on my farm, so I understand that Mexicans, they don´t want our contaminated soil too. So best way is close the border for this kind of products. I understand that potato is the main business of Salazar Family in Colorado, that´s why Government is pushing, have the whole support of them. Actually we already export a lot of tons of processed potatoes. Let´s keep it clean, or at least as we already are.

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