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Mexico Supreme Court decision expands U.S. potato market

United States potato growers are celebrating a major victory following a decision by Mexico’s supreme court allowing for an expansion of U.S. fresh potato imports. 

The 5-0 ruling overturned a lower court’s decision from 2017. Right now, Mexico only allows U.S. fresh potatoes into its first 16.165 miles. The expansion could result in up to $200 million in estimated sales per year, in five years.  

1.7 billion pounds of potatoes are harvested in Michigan each year, according to Michigan Potatoes, a statewide promotion organization. Michigan produces fresh potatoes which are purchased by consumers for home cooking, and chipping potatoes for snack brands like Better Made Snack Foods and Lays.   

“The decision by Mexico’s Supreme Court is welcome news to Michigan potato growers,” said Audrey Sebolt, horticulture specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau. “Due to Michigan’s ideal climate and soils, our state produces a wide range of very high-quality fresh potato varieties. The decision, if honored, will not only benefit our growers but also Mexico’s foodservice industry and consumers, as they will have access to varieties that are not currently produced there.”  

Despite the previous restrictions, Mexico was the third-largest export market for domestic potatoes and products at $270 million in 2020.  

The recent ruling comes after nearly two decades of negotiations and delays as the Mexican Supreme Court previously put off its decision to overturn to local threats from the potato cartel, National Confederation of Potato Producers of the Mexican Republic, or CONPAPA.   

“This decision is important for American agriculture and positive bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, adding decisions like this one are important for long-term export growth.