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Udall Leads Bipartisan Effort to Urge President to Fight for U.S. Potato Growers' Access to Mexican Markets

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2012

Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet led a bipartisan letter today from 17 senators, including Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and James Risch (R-Idaho), that strongly urged President Obama to work with the Mexican government to ensure that U.S. potatoes have access to Mexican markets.

"Mexico is the United States' third-largest trading partner, and agriculture is a significant element of this strong and growing economic relationship," the senators wrote in the letter. "We hope that Mexico's participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations and their commitment to expanded trade as a part of other trade agreements are true demonstrations of their willingness to work cooperatively to resolve longstanding U.S.-Mexico trade issues, including access for fresh U.S. potatoes."

Today's letter is the latest attempt from Udall and Bennet to open up Mexican markets to U.S.-grown potatoes. Udall and Bennet most recently wrote U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in mid-May 2012 asking for their help getting U.S. potatoes to Mexican markets. The letter also follows a June agreement between the United States and Mexico to expand market access for U.S. potato growers beyond the currently limited 26 kilometer border zone.

Udall and Bennet have consistently pushed U.S. officials to hold Mexico to its international trade agreements and to fully open its market for U.S. potatoes.

The letter can be found by clicking HERE or reading below:

December 21, 2012

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We appreciate your administration's efforts to spur economic growth through expansion of U.S. exports to Mexico – particularly with respect to U.S.-grown potatoes. In order to reach this goal, we must ensure that America's trading partners adhere to science-based standards practices, which is especially necessary when it comes to agricultural goods. We look forward to continue working with you to expand access to the Mexican market for U.S. potato growers in accordance with the existing market access agreement between the two countries.

For more than a decade, the United States government and the domestic potato industry have worked with their counterparts in Mexico to develop a market access agreement that would allow for U.S. fresh potato exports to reach all Mexican consumers. Despite an agreement signed by Mexico in 2003 that provided a clear timeline for expanding market access, U.S. fresh potato exports continue to be limited to an economic zone extending only 26 kilometers south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Every effort has been made to provide officials in Mexico with valid science and assessment of risk to advance the process of expanding U.S. potato access. In fact, both the Mexican Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture supported a 2011 international expert science panel tasked with evaluating phytosanitary concerns that ultimately rendered an opinion clearly establishing a path forward for expanding market access for U.S. potatoes in Mexico.

Mexico is the United States' third-largest trading partner, and agriculture is a significant element of this strong and growing economic relationship. We hope that Mexico's participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations and their commitment to expanded trade as a part of other trade agreements are true demonstrations of their willingness to work cooperatively to resolve longstanding U.S.-Mexico trade issues, including access for fresh U.S. potatoes.

We look forward to working with you to continue to develop a strong and growing trading relationship with Mexico. We believe that positively resolving the potato market access issue should be an important part of that process.

Sincerely,

By: Mike Saccone
 
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