Mexican potato industry might be putting up roadblocks

US-Mexico potato battle is not over yet

There was quite a lot of excitement on April 28, when US potato growers heard the decision by the Mexican Supreme Court to open up that nation to fresh potato exports from the United States. But this has now died down somewhat. Leaders of the Idaho and US potato industries suspect that the group that represents Mexico’s potato industry could be attempting to throw up a roadblock that could slow down or potentially stop the importation of fresh US potatoes into Mexico.

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled 5-0 April 28 to overturn a 2017 decision that prevented the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of fresh US potatoes throughout the entire country.

Fresh potatoes from the US are currently only allowed within a 16-mile area along the US-Mexico border. Gaining access for fresh potatoes to all of Mexico, which has a population of 130 million, has been one of the US potato industry’s top priorities for more than two decades.

Shortly after the unanimous ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court, American Falls potato farmer Klaren Koompin said the news was exciting but he was also worried that Mexico’s potato industry would find another way to delay opening up the country to fresh potato exports from the US.

Fears by Koompin and other US potato growers that Mexico’s spud industry would find another way to tilt the battle in their favor, appear to have materialized or at least begun to.

During the Idaho Potato Commission’s regular monthly meeting May 19, industry leaders announced that the National Confederation of Potato Growers of Mexico (CONPAPA) reached an agreement with the Mexican Supreme Court that will result in half of the samples taken from fresh US potato shipments being sent to a laboratory selected by CONPAPA to be tested. The other half will go to a government-run lab.

That means CONPAPA, which competes against the US potato industry, will have a direct hand in inspecting US potato imports and that is deeply troubling to members of the United States’ potato industry.


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