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A group of 14 U.S. senators and 25 members of Congress are urging the Trump administration to include fresh potatoes in trade talks with China.

According to a recent letter signed by the legislators, the $3.7 billion U.S. potato industry has been working to allow fresh exports to China since 2000. While frozen and dehydrated products are allowed, fresh potatoes are not. Despite extensive efforts, according to the letter, no “meaningful commitments” from China have come forth.

“In addition, two delegations of experts from China traveled to the United States for thorough in-person meetings and on-the-ground evaluations of fresh potato farming, processing shipping practices,” according to the letter. “Following these discussions and visits, the U.S. potato industry has worked diligently to provide science-based research and answer every question posed regarding the safety of fresh potatoes grown in the United states.”

If exports to China were allowed, it could become a top-five destination for U.S. fresh potatoes, according to the industry.

“For this reason, we ask that the (U.S. Trade Representative) ensures that new market opportunities for U.S potatoes are included in any trade negotiations with China,” according to the legislators’ letter.

"Given that the administration is working to conclude a new agreement with China, the longstanding issues surrounding market access for U.S. potatoes are achievable and can generate significant new jobs for the U.S.," John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council said in a news release.

 
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