Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association
Wisconsin Growers Meet with Congressional Delegation at Potato DC Fly-In
As part of the annual Potato DC Fly-In, several Wisconsin potato growers went to Capitol Hill last week to meet with the Wisconsin congressional delegation. Pictured on Capitol Hill are: Front row (L-R) Michael Wolter, Eric Schroeder and Tamas Houlihan; Back row (L-R) Larry Alsum, Wendy Dykstra, Jim Wysocki and Doug Posthuma. Wolter and Posthuma are the Wisconsin representatives who also participated in the Potato Industry Leadership Institute.
Pictured at the office of Congressman Mike Gallagher are: (L-R) Tamas Houlihan, Congressman Gallagher, Jim Wysocki and Michael Wolter.
The following are the key issues that the potato industry worked on at the Potato DC Fly-In held February 24-27 in Washington, D.C. The Wisconsin delegation also made a request for a new plant breeding facility at the West Madison Ag Research Station.
Message: NPC thanks all Members of Congress who voted to ratify the USMCA
When the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was announced, it allowed retaliatory tariffs to be reduced and the trading relationship between the three countries to stabilize. The new USMCA replaces NAFTA and sets the terms of trade between the three countries for the next sixteen years. Central to the agreement for our industry is the preservation of zero duties for U.S. potato exports. NPC greatly appreciates the overwhelming bipartisan votes in both the House and Senate to ratify the USMCA and stabilize the trading relationship with two of our top three export markets.
Mexico Market Access
Message: The U.S. potato industry must gain full access to Mexico for fresh potatoes before any reciprocal concessions are offered to Mexico for their fruit and vegetable imports.
Background: After years of disputes with the U.S government over potato market access, in 2014 Mexico grudgingly agreed to open their market. Upon taking that action, Mexico’s potato cartel (CONPAPA) sued their own government to prevent U.S. potato imports. Those lawsuits are currently being decided by the Mexican Supreme Court.
To ensure that the Mexican authorities adhere to international commitments and standards in allowing U.S. potato imports, the U.S. government must continue to utilize all necessary political and diplomatic pressure. Until the U.S. potato industry has full access for fresh potatoes, the U.S. should not provide any benefits on Mexico’s pending fruit and vegetable access requests including for enhanced avocado access.
China Tariffs and Market Access
Message: The U.S. and China should immediately seek to reduce retaliatory tariffs that have been placed on U.S. potatoes and potato products.
Background: China is a significant market for processed potato exports. It currently ranks in the top ten export markets for the U.S. potato industry. However, that market has been challenged recently due to China’s response to the U.S. Section 301 tariffs. China’s retaliatory tariffs of 5% on U.S. frozen fries and of 10% on dehydrated potatoes were estimated to result in losses of $38,313,072 and $2,130,883 respectively for the July 2018 – June 2019 period. The “Phase 1” agreement halted the increase in these tariffs but did not reduce them.