Saturday, May 22, 2010

You'll find just about everything in the Culiacan, Mexico public market, except potatoes-- Jake Putnam photo
Simpson Pushes for Greater Market Access for Idaho Potatoes

Washington, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined colleagues in sending a letter to Mexican President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa encouraging him to loosen trade restrictions on U.S. potatoes. Calderon is currently visiting Washington, DC, and the letter was hand-delivered today during a meeting with lawmakers.

“Giving U.S. potato growers full access to the market in Mexico would have a dramatically positive impact on the Idaho potato industry,” said Simpson. “I am hopeful that President Calderon will recognize that reducing trade barriers would prove beneficial to both of our countries.”

Mexico currently limits shipments of U.S. potatoes to areas within 26 kilometers of the border. The Mexican government claims that these restrictions are necessary to ensure that pests from U.S. potatoes are not spread to Mexican crops, but U.S. potato producers exporting to Mexico are subject to the same requirements to manage risks of diseases and pests as domestic producers who ship their products throughout Mexico. The letter calls on the Mexican government to provide the same treatment for U.S. potato imports that domestic potatoes get.

“The supplies of fresh potatoes produced domestically in Mexico are not adequate in quantity to meet the needs of Mexican consumers and processors on a year round basis,” the letter reads.
“Access to high quality U.S. fresh potatoes at prices which are lower than domestically produced potatoes will improve the well being of Mexican consumers and the productivity of Mexican potato processors…Treating U.S. potato imports in a similar manner as potatoes produced in Mexico would be good for Mexican consumers and would encourage the mutually beneficial trade relationship we both seek.”

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