Deteriorating relationship impacting competitiveness of U.S. agriculture
The National Potato Council and 26 leading food and agriculture associations sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on March 23 communicating growing concerns over the rapid deterioration of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship. The letter calls attention to alarming recent developments with regard to food and agriculture trade relationship with Mexico and urges action to address these challenges.
Together, the group of associations represent much of the food and agriculture sector that is responsible for roughly one-fifth of the country’s economic activity, directly supporting over 23 million jobs – constituting nearly 15 percent of total U.S. employment. Signers include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, International Dairy Foods Association, North American Meat Institute, National Grain and Feed Association, and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
The letter reads: “Mexico is one of America’s most important food and agriculture trade partners. NAFTA has yielded strong benefits to both countries and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) promises to build upon those gains. Yet, the food and agriculture trade relationship with Mexico has declined markedly, a trend USMCA’s implementation has not reversed. We respectfully urge your attention to this important but quickly deteriorating trade relationship.”
Leading concerns highlighted by the group include Mexico’s ban on the importation of U.S. fresh potatoes throughout the country. The groups write of the legal cases currently before the Mexican Supreme Court brought by the Mexican potato cartel CONPAPA preventing their federal government from implementing regulations allowing for the importation of U.S. fresh potatoes: “The primary question the cases ask the Court to resolve is not limited to potatoes, but instead alleges that the Mexican government has no authority to provide market access to any agricultural commodity. A negative outcome in these cases could have far-reaching impacts for U.S.-Mexico agricultural trade.”
Additional concerns raised include a ban on glyphosate and genetically modified corn, increased obstacles to dairy trade, an organic export certification requirement, a state-sponsored campaign disparaging corn sweeteners from the U.S., a cessation of review and approval of biotechnology applications, implications from meat industry market access and geographical indications, and a new front-of-pack labeling regulation. These issues, along with a high number of investigations on Mexico’s fresh produce exports to the U.S., hamper the competitiveness of U.S. farmers, ranchers, and other members of the food and agriculture sector.
Read the full letter here.