Now that Mexico has elected Claudia Sheinbaum as their new president, many ag leaders are hopeful that she and her administration will make some decisions to strengthen their ag trade relationship with the U.S.

“I know I’m optimistic, but I hope one way or the other that corn decree and some other things might see a change,” says Ted McKinney, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).

Given Sheinbaum’s science background as a research engineer, McKinney says he’s optimistic that she’ll overturn the previous decree put into place by current President Obrador that bans the import of U.S. biotech white corn for human consumption.

“The way to get there could be varied,” he says. “For example, it may be that before she makes any decision to overturn such a decree, the results of the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) dispute come out and they say or rule it’s inappropriate and she just let’s that stand. She may or may not have to make a reversal of the decree, but either way—no matter how you vector into this—the result absolutely must be a change in that policy.”

McKinney says he’s also optimistic that Sheinbaum will agree to increase Mexico’s funding for research and preventative measures to keep harmful animal diseases—such as African Swine Fever—from rearing its ugly head.

“We know that there’s been a substantial reduction in funding for [Mexico’s] regulatory agencies that are looking for invasive species and various diseases that could—without losing some care—could find their way to the U.S.  We’re hoping that [Sheinbaum’s] science background is applied in good fashion and we get some things fixed,” he says.

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Ted McKinney, who serves as CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). Photo: C.J. Miller / Michigan Ag Today.

Most of all, McKinney says it’s important that U.S. and Mexico maintain their strong ag trade partnership.

“We still live in the best ‘neighborhood’ on the planet, with respect to our trade north to Canada and south to Mexico,” says McKinney. “We have to strengthen that. If there’s ever a time to strengthen it, it’s now. I also say that here in a year or so, we’re going to have the first formal review of USMCA and that we don’t want to have to go into that review with all kinds of problems.”

According to USDA, Mexico is set to be the number one ag export destination for the U.S.—and will spend an estimated $28.7 billion this year alone on U.S. ag products.

Sheinbaum will become Mexico’s next president beginning Oct. 1, 2024.