Several groups representing the potato industry recently sent thanks to USDA Secretary Perdue in a letter, after voicing support for the inclusion of potatoes in trade negotiations with Mexico. In a House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing which featured a question related to avocados from Mexico, Secretary Perdue noted that “we would also like to resolve the potato issue.”
“U.S. potato growers have sought full access to Mexico for over 16 years without success. During this same time, Mexican avocado growers have built a $2 billion annual export market in our country,” the letter states. “Providing enhanced access for Mexican avocado farmers absent a reciprocal benefit to U.S. potato producers would be a missed opportunity.”
A decision from the USDA regarding the granting of increased access is still pending. If the Mexican market for fresh U.S. potatoes were to open, the value is estimated to be more than $150 million annually. A decision from the Mexican Supreme Court to allow American access is anticipated by Thanksgiving. The letter written by the National Potato Council and signed by several other potato industry organizations expressed appreciation for Secretary Perdue’s understanding of the value of the Mexican market for American potato producers.
“The U.S. potato industry would like to thank you for the strong support of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in seeking to open export markets for U.S. potatoes,” the letter noted. “The commitment of USDA personnel both in Washington, D.C., and Mexico in correcting this imbalance certainly merits our thanks and appreciation. We look forward to the successful conclusion of the full opening of the Mexican market to U.S. fresh potatoes in the very near future.”
According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, California is the ninth-largest state for potato production, with more than 37,000 acres harvested in 2017. The largest California counties for fresh potato production include Modoc, Siskiyou, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego Counties.