The U.S. Department of Transportation released a proposal Thursday to restart a cross-border trucking program with Mexico. U.S. potato growers are watching the developments because the program's halt resulted in the Mexican government placing a 20 percent tariff on frozen potato products. The tariff was later lowered to 5 percent. Tariffs were also placed on apples, onions, frozen sweet corn and other commodities. Matt Harris, the Washington State Potato Commission's trade director, said the plan is long-awaited. "From what I understand, it looks like a good step forward and is also a plan that will be discussed between the U.S. and Mexico before it's accepted and brought into play," Harris commented.
He said a lot of work was put forward by their delegation "to hear our needs and the stress it's put on our French fries." Harris explained the matter is going to take time to resolve. "Hopefully, we can see some momentum to alleviate and take these tariffs off our French fries," he said. "I think it's a good step forward. We look forward to seeing a plan come out and something that works for both countries." vegetable cutter
Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse stated that he was "encouraged" about the proposal." The proposal "could lead to an end to the harmful tariffs against Washington's apple, pear, potato , and other food exports to Mexico," he stated. "While we must be assured of the safety of all trucks on our highway, our state's growers have been caught up in a dispute not of their own making."
From the tariffs, the state's agricultural exports decreased by at least $40 million, he commented. About $50 million could be lost in apple exports this year if the issue isn't resolved, he estimated. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., stated he would "continue to work with the administration and local growers to ensure a solution is finalized and implemented as quickly as possible to avoid additional harm to Central Washington's economy." The proposal includes a list of requirements to participate in the program, such as having interested Mexican carriers apply to take part, a pre-authority safety audit, proof of insurance, insurance monitoring, inspections and electronic monitoring.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., stated she worked closely with farmers and growers across the state "to fight against these unfair tariffs that are killing jobs and hurting the local agricultural industry." "Now that this proposal has been put forward, I am strongly urging the Mexican government to end their harmful tariffs immediately and allow our farmers to once again compete on a level playing field they deserve," she commented. vegetable cutter