Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire is urging the Obama administration to quickly resolve a trucking dispute with Mexico to aid export of Washington farm products, including frozen potatoes, that are now the target of the 20 percent duty.
Canadian potato growers are beginning to replace U.S. exports of frozen potatoes to Mexico, said Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission.
The U.S. exported $80 million in frozen potatoes, such as french fries and tater tots, to Mexico in 2008, making it the No. 2 market behind Japan. About half came from Washington state.
Washington produced 9.4 billion pounds of potatoes last year. Ninety percent is processed into frozen potatoes.
"This is going to affect the bottom line of growers. If we can't get rid of those tariffs, if they remain in place, all that business is going to shift to Canada, and that means growers are going to have to reduce acres," Voigt said. "Processors will go to the growers and say, 'You're not a grower for us anymore. We don't have a home for your potatoes.'"