U.S. Potato Industry Welcomes Mexico Supreme Court Decision
Very good news for potato growers arrived last week when the Mexican Supreme Court, in a unanimous 5-0 vote, overturned a 2017 lower court decision preventing the government from allowing the import of fresh U.S. potatoes.
National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles says the growers union in Mexico have made things very difficult.
“CONPAPA, which is the association which represents these growers, the growers are actually a collection of six or seven, what we would call Oligarchs,” said Quarles. “They’re incredibly wealthy individuals. They operate like a cartel. They are able to ratchet up and down the supply of potatoes as they want to keep the price high. And, by virtue of the resources that they have, they have an incredible amount of political influence.”
Quarles says that influence has created this decades-long dispute.
“They clearly were exerting that on the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court ultimately was able to resist it and now we’ve got to rely on the Mexican government to follow through and, clearly, that political power is going to be on full display to try to keep that from happening. So, that’s the big challenge right now.”
But, Quarles says the Supreme Court’s ruling was an important first step.
“Without the Supreme Court providing this clarity, the Mexican government would feel that they were completely blocked from taking further action.”
The U.S. potato industry estimates that access to all of Mexico for fresh potatoes has the market potential of $200 million per year within five years.