Mexico Gives Washington Go-ahead
After meeting with senior agriculture officials in the Mexican government during Washington Governor Gary Locke's mission to Mexico in June, the Mexican government has reinstated suspended Washington state shippers for the new shipping season.
Pest concerns held up shipments from seven Washington state packing plants since the market was opened by action of the National Potato Council in April of 2003.
Washington officials give credit to the continued work of APHIS negotiators who worked with the U.S. industry to put new shipping protocols in place last October.
Since the new methods of inspection and certification were set, pest finds have ben reduced to less than 1 percent.
Also recognized were members of APHIS' counterpart SENASICA in Mexico. Dr. Jorge Hernandez Baeza, director general of SENASICA, was especially involved in reviewing and releasing the shippers on the suspension list.
While on the mission, discussion was also made about consumer and snack food processor product demands in Mexico from Washington and other states. Also discussed was seed shipments from Mexico into the United States in a true two-way trade arrangement.
The current agreement with Mexico allows fresh potatoes to be shipped as far as 26 kilometers inside the border, not as far as Mexico City.
Mexican growers will visit Washington state again in September to further cement relationships. It was Washington state grower Frank Martinez who visited with CONPAPA in April 2001 that opened the door. A native of Mexico, Martinez began dialogue over a dinner that has developed into exchange visits by growers from both countries, personal friendships and fruitful negotiations.