Related content: Potato outlook isn't good.
(UPDATED March 21) The Mexican government has published a long-sought rule that should open the door for U.S. potato imports by June.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will specify particular shipping and labeling requirements for U.S. potatoes being shipped to Mexico during the next few weeks, according to a news release from the Washington, D.C.-based National Potato Council and the Denver, Colo.-based U.S. Potato Board.
“The U.S. potato industry and our partners at USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are pleased to learn that the Mexican government has issued its final rule designed to achieve the bilateral goal of expanding trade in fresh potatoes between our two countries,” according the March 20 release.
In September 2012, the Mexican government started the process to establish a pathway to allow the expansion U.S. fresh potato trade with Mexico. The Mexican government currently limits U.S. fresh potatoes to a 16-mile zone along the border.
“The U.S. potato industry applauds the successful conclusion of the parallel rulemaking processes, which will benefit consumers and potato growers on both sides of the border,” according to the release.
Jerry Wright, president and chief executive officer of the Salt Lake City-based United Potato Growers of America, cautioned growers against seeing Mexico as a solution to expected lower prices this season due to increased acreage.
Wright addressed exports to Mexico on March 13 during the U.S. Potato Board's annual meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo. Although that was before Mexico published the rule, that action was anticipated.
During his report, Wright said potato production is expected to increase in the 2014-15 season, even if acreage stays the same, because yields should increase. That extra production will likely stay in the domestic market, he said.
"The expectation that Mexico will solve this problem is hopeful, but hope is not a strategy," Wright told industry members. "If you take one message back to your areas, it's 'Do not use Mexico as any justification for planting the same acres as last year."