SAGARPA, the department of agriculture for Mexico, will likely challenge a court ruling in Mexico that orders it to continue to ban fresh U.S. potatoes from most of the country.
The judge listed concerns about pests among reasons for the Aug. 4 decision, but the National Potato Council believes the order will face resistance.
“The ruling is expected to be appealed by parties with a direct interest in the case, including SAGARPA,” the council stated in a news release Aug. 8. “The U.S. potato industry is confident that a more thorough review of the facts of this case and the acknowledgment of established phytosanitary trade practices by the judicial system in Mexico will alter the outcome of this decision.”
After reviewing the ruling, the council does not expect it to affect shipments into the 26-kilometer zone along the border.
Even so, the council expressed concern about the judgment because of the precedent it would set.
“The ruling, while of direct relevance to potato trade, could also have a significant impact on trade in a variety of plant and animal products by undermining the regulatory authority of government plant health authorities in Mexico,” the council stated in the release.
U.S. potato growers have been supplying fresh potatoes to the 26-kilometer zone since 2003, and access was supposed to expand in 2013 to include all of Mexico, but opposition from potato growers in Mexico has delayed that opening.
“Mexico’s a big trading partner in terms of the amount of frozen product that we ship down there, but fresh has a tremendous potential to grow if we were allowed to get into the market,” John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the council, said Aug. 7. “And the science ... there’s no disagreement that potatoes can be shipped down there safely. This is about other things.”
The potato issue has been linked to avocados.
Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed in May 2016 to allow avocados grown in the Mexican state of Jalisco, shipments this January were halted at the border in Texas. Some officials in Mexico said the approval of Jalisco imports was tied to opening all of Mexico to fresh U.S. potatoes, but other reports said it was due to a lack of a USDA work plan.