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Mexico judge continues ban on U.S. potatoes

A district court judge in Los Mochis ruled to continue the ban on U.S. potatoes in most of Mexico, and the National Potato Council said this ignores science and directly threatens the role of SAGARPA, the Mexican plant health regulatory authority. According to the National Potato Council, the ruling contradicts the conclusions of SAGARPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and third-party experts who have reviewed the potential impact of the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States to Mexico.

The ruling, while of direct relevance to potato trade, could also have a significant impact on trade in a variety of plant and animal products by undermining the regulatory authority of government plant health authorities in Mexico.

SAGARPA has completed and published a Pest Risk Assessment that demonstrates that any risk from the entry of U.S. fresh potatoes can be safely mitigated. Similar analysis by a panel of third-party experts facilitated by the North American Plant Protection Organization reached a similar conclusion.

The ruling is expected to be appealed by parties with a direct interest in the case, including SAGARPA. The National Potato Council said the U.S. potato industry is confident that a more thorough review of the facts of this case and the acknowledgement of established phytosanitary trade practices by the judicial system in Mexico will alter the outcome of this decision.

"Based on the initial review by our legal team, the ruling will not limit the movement of U.S. potatoes into the 26-kilometer zone along the border," National Potato Council said in a press release. "Potato growers in the U.S. have been supplying Mexican consumers in this region with potatoes since Mexico and the U.S. signed a bilateral agreement in 2003. That agreement called for an expansion of access for U.S. potatoes to all of Mexico. Actions taken by SAGARPA in 2013 finally implemented the full scope of this agreement, but challenge to those actions by Mexican potato growers has prevented all Mexican consumers from having access to U.S. potatoes."