Last week, Mexico’s Supreme Court refused for the second time in six weeks to make a ruling that could allow substantial new access to the Mexican market worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually for US potatoes. This strengthened the determination of Mexican farmers to continue their fight against the trade.
The US exports about $60 million worth of fresh spuds across the southern border every year, despite a major Mexican trade barrier that only allows US imports within 26 kilometers of the border. That could rise as high as $200 million per year if the court rules to give US potatoes full access to the Mexican market.
According to the USDA, that’s still a relatively small portion of the $19.1 billion worth of total US agri exports to Mexico in 2020.
Kam Quarles is the CEO of the US-based National Potato Council. He has stated that pressure to stave off competition from the Mexican potato industry is a key factor behind the multiple delays, but Mexico’s National Federation of Potato Producers (CONPAPA) insists the justices are simply taking more time to educate themselves on the pest and disease threats from US imports.
“The [Mexican] potato growers will keep fighting to protect Mexican phytosanitary measures,” CONPAPA President Gerardo García Menaut told Agri-Pulse. “The farmers are not against commerce … but they are focused on protecting plant health. They are trying to protect themselves.”