Potato industry wants exports enhanced

The head of the National Potato Council says expanded access to potato export markets could create an additional $1 billion in economic activity.  

Kam Quarles says a new report from Michigan State University finds tariffs, exchange rates, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures are the largest barriers for the industry.

“You’re talking about countries utilizing pests and disease effectively excuses as reasons not to negotiate not to open their markets not to consider the possibility of foreign imports coming in,” he says.

Researchers say fresh potato exports have some of the largest growth opportunities for the U.S. industry, especially in Mexico and Japan.

Vice President of Trade Affairs and Washington state grower Ted Tschirky says one in every five rows of U.S. potatoes are exported.

“To countries like Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and other trading partners,” he says.

Quarles tells Brownfield farm bill programs like the Market Access and Foreign Market Development Programs are vital to the success of exports.

“Across the entire agriculture industry is the need to double those resources for both MAP and the Foreign Market Development Program,” he says. “Those are essential resources that we really want to have embedded in the farm bill, into the baseline on a permanent basis.”

The MSU report finds exports of U.S. potatoes and potato products contribute nearly around $4.8 billion in economic activity and support nearly 34,000 domestic jobs. Frozen potato products, fresh potato exports, and dehydrated potato products are the top exported items.

The organization hosted a call with reporters Monday as part of its annual Washington Summit to advocate for the potato industry.

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