Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Cantwell, Newhouse urge USDA push for Japan potato access

Staff Report | May 17, 2023 1:20 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima, along with 33 other members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to do more to help U.S. potato growers get final approval to ship fresh potatoes to Japan.

In a joint letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the members say the Japanese government is still delaying since the United States asked for the ability to export fresh potatoes to Japan almost 30 years ago, the press release said. The legislators say approval of fresh potato exports to Japan could provide for an additional $150 million each year in expanded exports.

Japan is a top market for Washington-grown potatoes, and roughly $220 million worth of frozen, dehydrated and chipped potatoes are sold to Japan each year, the press release said.

According to the letter, Japan has already reviewed U.S. fresh potato inspection standards in 2006 when the Japanese market was opened to potatoes for processing. At that time, the latter said, U.S. exporters and processors addressed all of the Japanese government’s technical concerns.

“Access to Japan from U.S. fresh potatoes would result in a 10% increase in global exports for our industry,” said Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council, in the press release. “This negotiation is highly charged politically in Japan and the strong support from these members of Congress is essential in countering that pressure and seeing our goal for American growers achieved.”

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