U.S. authorities propose access for Mexican potatoes

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U.S. authorities propose access for Mexican potatoes

The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has proposed allowing market access for Mexican potatoes, in accordance with a systems approach that uses sprout inhibitors and mitigates pest risks.

National Potato Council spokesperson Mark Szymanski told www.freshfruitportal.com the proposed rule was part of a two-track process between the two countries, with U.S. growers hoping to expand their export options outside existing limits.potatoes_59901256 small

"Since 2003 we have had granted limited access to this 26km (16mi) zone just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, and with that limited access, U.S. potato growers currently export about US$40 million worth of fresh potato product to Mexico," he said.

"We think it [Mexico] has the market potential of about US$150 million so this is an important market for us and we’ve been working with our government very closely to try to find an agreement with Mexico in increasing trade between the two countries.

"We look forward to the successful conclusion of this parallel rulemaking process, which we know will benefit both consumers and potato growers on both sides of the border."

The proposed rule was posted on the Federal Register Sep. 27 with a 60-day period for public comment until and during Nov. 26.

The service's pest risk assessment (PRA) identified eight quarantine pests that will need to be addressed in the systems approach, including potato weevil Epicaerus cognatus Sharp, false root-knot nematode Nacobbus aberrans (Thorne) Thorne & Alle, a brown rot-causing bacteria and several types of fungus.

In a commercial analysis, APHIS highlighted that the U.S. had shifted from its position as an importer to a net exporter of fresh or chilled table potatoes in recent years, with an average net supply of 16.6 million metric tons (MT) between 2008 and 2010.

"Mexico's average annual exports for the same years totaled about 1,500 MT. Even if all of Mexico's exports were diverted to the United States, they would be equivalent to less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of U.S net supply," the post said.

"Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities."






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