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United States Potato Industry hopes to export to China

United States Potato Industry hopes to export to China

Oregon Potato Commission CEO Bill Brewer told the Washington-Oregon Potato Conference in Kennewick, Washington, that US industry leaders hope negotiations will open China to fresh potatoes.

January 27, 2019
United States Potato Industry leaders say they hope to open new doors for exporting fresh potatoes to China.

Bill Brewer, president and CEO of the Oregon Potato Commission:

“We believe we're maybe in the final stages of trying to open up the Chinese fresh market.”
A deal with China last summer would have allowed the country to buy more U.S. agricultural products, said John Keeling, CEO of the National Potato Council. That deal was scrapped when President Donald Trump added more tariffs to Chinese products.

The administration is negotiating with the Chinese to put the deal back together by March 1, Keeling said.

John Keeling:

“How the president is able to pull off this China deal is huge in terms of how his support will be in the heartland, where the people who really getting hurt by this — corn and soybean farmers — are, and how we will be going forward in terms of trade for China.”
Keeling didn't estimate a likelihood of the deal, but said it presents "an incredible opportunity" for potatoes.

Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington Potato Commission:

“We've been working on this for 20 years.”

“We're the number one ag priority in the U.S. Trade Representative's office ... so we've got a good shot at getting in there, we hope.”
If an agreement is completed, Brewer said, it would likely go into effect for the 2020 crop year.

Bill Brewer:

“I do know it's being discussed right now, that high-level trade.”
China is by far the largest producer of potatoes in the world. Exporting even a small amount of fresh table stock potatoes to China "could be a big deal for all of our growers," Brewer said.

Bill Brewer:

“There's so many people there, and they do have a big push in China to move more of their population to potato instead of rice.”
The population of China is 1.4 billion.

China primarily buys frozen french fries and dehydrated products from the United States.

The only state that can currently sell fresh potatoes to China is Alaska, which can send seed potatoes, Brewer said.

Bill Brewer:

“They recognize that we have high-quality potatoes.”

“They chip a lot of potatoes in China, and they need our quality and production. So there's a demand if we can just get access.”
Demand would likely be slow at first, and then ramp up, Brewer said.

Bill Brewer:

“There's a lot of potential.”
The Potato Council is working with all states to get letters to Trump, encouraging him to include fresh potato access to China as part of the final deal, Keeling said.

John Keeling:

“Will it happen? I don't know.”

“But I know this: We're going to do everything we can in terms of applying political pressure and pressure from the grassroots at the president's level and the U.S. trade representative's level to get that done."
Companies in this Article
The National Potato Council is looking after the interest of the potato growers in the United States. The NPC website provides information on potato history, potato cultivation, potato statistics and US state potato organisations
The Oregon Potato Commission represents the potato Industry in Oregon.