Hastings Joins Bipartisan Letter to Encourage Fair Access to Mexico for Central Washington Potato Growers
Jun 15, 2012 -
On Monday, Congressman Doc Hastings joined 14 other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to United States Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk, urging him to pressure Mexico to allow fair access for U.S. fresh potatoes.
“For far too long, Mexico has restricted access to fresh potatoes from the United States with no basis in science,” said Hastings. “Mexico has the potential to be a $150 million market for our potato growers, and we must make it clear to our second largest trading partner that these restrictions are not acceptable.”
Currently, Mexico bans U.S. fresh potatoes beyond a 26 kilometer zone of the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexico claims that potatoes grown in the U.S. pose a pest risk. However, a Pest Risk Assessment conducted by Mexico last year concluded that the U.S. and Mexico have very similar pest profiles. Under existing treaty agreements, this requires Mexico to treat U.S. potatoes the same way that they treat those grown domestically.
With only access to the 26 kilometer zone, the United States exported $35.3 million worth of potatoes in 2010. Conservative industry estimates suggest that exports could reach as much as $150 million a year if Mexico’s ban was lifted.
The bipartisan letter requests that Ambassador Kirk continue to press Mexico to develop a policy governing the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States that is based on science, as he considers Mexico’s request to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
In addition to Hastings, the letter was signed by Scott Tipton (R-CO), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Greg Walden (R-OR), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Adam Smith (D-WA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Norm Dicks (R-WA), and Mike Coffman (R-CO).