Mexico's tariffs hold on; U.S. producers react - The Packer

Mexico's tariffs hold on; U.S. producers react

06/26/2009 02:35:00 PM
Ashley Bentley

Produce industry associations, as well as private companies and producers, have sent letters to Congress and met with representatives from their states since March to get their point across.

Bedwell was in Washington, D.C., the week of June 15 for that purpose.

“I’ve had nine meetings today with congressional representatives to really articulate our growing concern over our lack of progress on this issue,” Bedwell said June 17. “We found a lot of sympathy and understanding, but in terms of a real solution in getting the tariff revoked, we can’t say that’s getting discussed in any detail.”

The No. 2 market for California table grapes is Mexico, and the state shipped 5.5 million boxes last year.

The export season should start in August, and ramp up by October.

“We stick out like a sore thumb,” Bedwell said. “We estimate, at minimum, our shipments would be down 75%, and I can’t imagine any significant amount being shipped to Mexico.”

The apricot export season just wrapped up, and Bedwell said California shipped only 14,000 boxes to Mexico this year, compared with 64,000 last year.

That’s with a 20% tariff, as well as a smaller crop and stronger domestic marketing.

Correa said some industry groups are considering banding together and hiring a public relations representative to help keep the issue in consumer media.

U.S. onion exporters are also awaiting their export season.

Wayne Mininger, executive vice president of the Greeley, Colo.-based National Onion Association, said he hopes the strong relationships the U.S. and Mexico have in onion trading will serve as an advantage.

“Mexico grows and sells a lot of onions to the U.S., so there are significant market operations in place,” Mininger said. “We hope to bank on those relationships to an extent and see onions move to Mexico over the summer and into the fall when the larger amount goes that way.”

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