Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced that an agreement had been reached to allow U.S. potatoes into the Mexican market no later than May 15th. While that is good news, National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles says we can believe it when we see it.
“Obviously, we’d rather hear positive news than negative. We’d just, given that this is a 25-year trade dispute with a heck of a lot of twists and turns, we’re going to have to see exports actually moving before we start to feel comfortable in this.”
Quarles says he wants to see a lot of movement on the part of Mexico between now and then. “It may be a number of months if not years before we truly know that this market is open because our competitors have, even though some of their options may be coming more limited, their interest in keeping us out of their market, I don’t think that’s declined at all.”
But the announcement was good news. Quarles; “Clearly, Secretary Vilsack has been very, very committed to getting this potato issue solved. This is one that is, he’s been dealing with for both administrations that he’s been Secretary of Agriculture in. I think he’s personally very committed to that.”
But Quarles says nobody is holding their breath. “We very much want to see the rest of the pieces of this puzzle get put into place before we can determine whether or not Mexico’s really serious about allowing our exports and hopefully letting us build out what we think is going to be a very valuable market both for U.S. growers and Mexican consumers.”
Quarles hopes an April inspection of a U.S. facility will be the final hurdle they need to clear and that no last-minute roadblocks pop up.