Published online: Jul 07, 2011 Potato Storage, Potato Harvesting, Seed Potatoes
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WASHINGTON, D.C.-The National Potato Council applauds yesterday's action by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to sign an agreement with Mexico. The agreement will allow a cross border trucking program between the United States and Mexico and is the result of a pledge from President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon to end the trade dispute that has plagued the potato industry for more than two years. Since March 2009, U.S. potato growers have seen revenues from frozen potato exports to Mexico decline by more than $70 million, or nearly 50 percent.

"The importance of [the July 6] action by the United States and Mexico cannot be overstated. For too long this dispute has been allowed to fester and a commitment by both governments to abide by this agreement is an enormous step in the right direction," said NPC President Justin Dagen of Karlstad, Minn. "The potato growers of the United States applaud President Obama in his effort to make sure the United States is living up to its trade obligations and look forward to the permanent resolution of the issue and complete elimination of the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. frozen potato exports to Mexico. We intend to work closely with the Administration and Congress to defeat any efforts in Congress to interfere with this important step forward."

The Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs ("Alliance"), a coalition of more than 170 U.S. industry and agriculture organizations, also applauds the agreement.

Mexico is the third-largest market for U.S. potatoes. In 2008, the most recent year unaffected by the dispute, U.S. growers exported more than $83 million in frozen potatoes to Mexico. In response to Congressional action to prohibit funding for a cross-border trucking pilot program, Mexico levied $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs in accordance with an arbitration panel's decision in 2001. U.S. frozen potatoes were initially subject to a 20 percent tariff level on March 23, 2009. The tariff was reduced on August 17, 2010, when the tariff list was rotated to include other agricultural and manufactured goods.