Secretary Vilsack Cites Mexico Potato Progress in Budget Hearing
During yesterday’s FY23 budget hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack cited the recent progress with the decades-long Mexico access dispute as an example of how the Biden Administration is working to expand market opportunities for U.S. agricultural products.
During the hearing, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) asked how USDA’s FY23 budget request would support the U.S. ag supply chain, particularly in regards to “our reliance on Chinese exports.”
Secretary Vilsack answered:
Well, I would say that the concern that we have about Chinese exports, Congressman, is the need for us to continue to look for ways in which we can diversify so that we're not as overly reliant on a single market. We know what happened when that market was disrupted during the trade war. We saw the devastation to producers.
And so, we're continually looking for ways in which we can expand new market opportunities. The Indo-Pacific framework that was announced by the USTR is one way of focusing on ways in which we can knock down barriers. Recently, additional beef sales in Japan, additional corn sales, frozen pork sales in Vietnam, potatoes in Mexico, we're breaking down barriers so that we can expand access to additional markets.
I think there are opportunities in Southeast Asia. I think there are opportunities in Africa. So, the budget, basically, provides us the opportunity to continue to look for ways in which we can expand presence. At the end of the day, expanding market opportunity is about presence. It's about having people in place, which we have.
It's about the resources that MAP and FMD provide that -- to, basically, have promotions and -- and the opportunity for us to do additional trade mission. So, you're going to see a very aggressive effort in trade missions this year. We had one in the Middle East. We've got one scheduled in Spain. We've got one scheduled in Kenya.
We've got one scheduled in the Philippines. So, there's going to be a continued focus effort on increasing and expanding our presence in these foreign markets so that we diversify, and we're not as reliant on China as we have been in the past.
“Clearly this is an issue that the Administration is devoting a lot of energy to resolving. We appreciate their continued commitment and will need it in well into the future in order to maintain access to the highly disputed Mexican market,” said Jared Balcom, NPC 2022 President and potato grower from Washington state.