The Colorado Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, and a delegation of potato buyers from Mexico got a unique look into Colorado's spud industry during a recent tour that spanned six of the state's communities.
The purpose of the meetings was to discuss Colorado's potato export opportunities when market access to Mexico increases.
"Mexico is already a tremendous partner to Colorado's potato farmers and I'm excited that we have the opportunity to further develop our friendships and partnerships," says Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar. "Colorado supplies about 1,700 semi-truck loads of potatoes each year to our Mexican neighbors and that partnership benefits the citizens of Mexico and Colorado's potato farmers."
Mexicans "are very interested in selling U.S. potatoes in our country, not just in the border region, but throughout Mexico," says Pedro Avina, Central Market of Mexico City spokesman.
Colorado exports nearly 45% of all fresh potatoes in produces to Mexico, but that market is limited to the buyers along the U.S. border. USDA is in negotiations with Mexican officials to discuss a solution to the limited market. The next step in the talks will take place in August, when a mediation panel will discuss a compromise that could benefit both nations.
"The expansion of the Mexican potato market would be a significant benefit to all U.S. potato growers, including Colorado farmers," says USDA Undersecretary Edward Avalos. "The meetings between the Colorado delegation and the Mexican buyers are a proactive and positive step toward developing that relationship that will, hopefully, lead to more U.S. potatoes entering Mexico."
The meetings took place in late June, including a breakfast with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, tours of Safeway in Littleton and Whole Foods in Centennial. It also included a unique look into Colorado's potato industry at Blanfort, Inc., packing shed and fields in Blanca, the Colorado State University SLV Research Center, and the Aspen Produce LLC packing shed in Center. The delegation also had the opportunity to discuss export opportunities and concerns during a roundtable with potato growers in Monte Vista.