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Potato growers look to offset market losses

Potatoes USA has been awarded over $5.1 million, over two rounds of allocations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Agricultural Trade Promotion Program” (ATP), to help increase U.S. potato export opportunities.

Potatoes USA is the marketing group for 2,500 commercial potato growers across the country.

Its strategy for the funding includes new activities and projects in existing target markets, while expanding into new markets to increase overall demand. 83 projects are planned in over 15 countries. The activities will take place over three years, from now through 2022.

Potatoes USA hopes new programs in new markets will make up for lost sales in other markets due to recent trade barriers.

Retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. potatoes by Mexico and China contributed to a direct loss, estimated at $121 million, during the July 2018 and June 2019 marketing year, according to Potatoes USA. It added that due to further increasing tariffs this year, and the difficulty of re-establishing trade relationships in the future, the long-term impact is even greater.

In addition, the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2017 gave industry competitors duty-free access to markets within the 11 remaining nations in that organization, as well as Japan and Vietnam. The U.S., meanwhile, faces tariffs of 8.5 to 20%. As a result, Potatoes USA said potato exports could lose $150 million in sales annually.

The group hopes the ATP projects will help rebuild trade relationships, create new markets, and make up for lost sales.

Among the new markets its targeting are Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Existing markets that will have activities supported by ATP are: Burma, Central America, China, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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