Mexico’s Quarantine Division is making a border stand on loads of potatoes from the United States while they conduct tests to make sure they are free of pests.
This action follows the recent opening of the border to United States potato shipments under NAFTA to within about 20 miles of the border. Mexico is supposed to allow delivery of potatoes to a greater extent next year.
Mexico made intentions to hold the loads in a letter sent to the USDA’s APHIS. Washington State Potato Commission representatives have met with APHIS to work on a response to Mexico’s concerns.
United States officials have been told Mexico may begin stopping loads at the border the first of August, making sure they are pest-free before letting them in. The Potato Council is greatly concerned because taking the tests may take up to five days. This would cause shipments to stand in heat, possibly damaging the produce. A response was to be sent July 25 proposing additional measures USDA and the industry will take to address Mexico’s concerns.
To date, over 250 loads from Washington state have been sent to Mexico since the market opened in early May.
Mexico has reportedly found pests from several states since their program began. The majority of these finds are for nematodes.
APHIS and the WSPC are investigating the alleged finds and will determine what measures will be taken.