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U.S. and Mexico: U.S. Potato Trade Ruling

Understanding the historic trends and recent developments of U.S.-Mexico potato trade.

Twenty years ago, the U.S. agreed to open trade to Mexican avocados in exchange for U.S. potatoes. While Mexican avocado imports increased, U.S. potatoes were still unable to make their way across the border. The Mexican government finally opened their country to U.S. potato exports in 2011, but with lTwenty years ago, the U.S. agreed to open trade to Mexican avocados in exchange for U.S. potatoes. While Mexican avocado imports increased, U.S. potatoes were still unable to make their way across the border. The Mexican government finally opened their country to U.S. potato exports in 2011, but with limited access of up to 26 kilometers past the border. Since this decision, numerous legal cases have been filed by the Mexican potato industry to protect their domestic monopoly and prevent import competition. The Mexican potato cartel ‘CONPAPA’ stated that the government does not have the authority to determine whether or not agricultural imports can cross into their borders. These cases made their way to the Mexico Supreme Court in 2018.   

Mexico Supreme Court Rules in Favor of U.S. Potato Exports

The Mexican Supreme Court issued a draft ruling prior to the actual vote. The draft ruling was released on February 17, 2021, and rejected the cases filed by Mexican potato farmers and supported full access to export trade for U.S. potato farmers. The Mexican Supreme Court was expected to rule on the issue on February 24, 2021, however, the ruling was indefinitely postponed.

On March 28th, 2021, Mexico’s top court issued a final five-to-zero ruling that would officially allow U.S. potato exports full access to trade with Mexico—a ruling that was twenty years in the making.

In early November 2021, Mexico published new phytosanitary requirements for U.S. potato imports along with an operational work plan soon after. Both are essential to solidify import procedures and a positive sign for U.S. potato growers that the Mexican market could soon be opened to them.

Full Trade Access for U.S. Potato Growers Resumes 

In a much-anticipated step forward, full access for U.S. potato exports to Mexico resumed on May 11, 2022. The first shipment crossed the previous 26-kilometer border restriction—breaking down the trade barriers and signaling a major win for U.S. potato growers.  

“Through this accomplishment, we are delivering better markets for U.S. farmers, supporting economic growth, and providing access to our southern neighbors to the high-quality and safe products our farmers work hard every day to grow and sustain.”

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture  

“This is an important moment for the U.S. potato industry and our partners in the federal government who have fought for decades to restore access to this vital market, but we know the work is not over if we are to keep the border open.”

Jared Balcom, National Potato Council President 

The Impact on U.S. Potato Growers

Seeing this long-awaited decision in action is welcomed news for the U.S. potato industry and will likely lead to economic gain for American potato growers and the U.S. ag trade industry as a whole.

As the largest export market for U.S. potatoes, Mexico is a major part of the U.S. potato export trade. In 2021, the U.S. exported an estimated $60 million worth of fresh spuds to Mexico despite existing trade barriers. According to the National Potato Council, the market potential for full U.S. fresh potato access for Mexico is estimated at $250 million per year in five years. 

As an advocate for a thriving future for American agriculture, AgAmerica will continue to monitor developments of this ruling and provide updates as events unfold through our trade and legislation page

You can also sign up for AgAmerica’s newsletter to stay informed on the latest legislative news impacting the agriculture industry.

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