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Japan still does not allow imports of fresh U.S. potatoes after nearly 30 years of negotiations    

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), and 31 other House and Senate members urged the Biden Administration to help U.S. potato growers finally get approval to sell fresh potatoes to customers in Japan.

U.S. potato exports reached a record $2.1 billion in sales in 2022, with Japan being a top export market for U.S. frozen potatoes. However, fresh “table-stock” potatoes, a category that includes common types of potato like Russets and Reds, are blocked for export by Japanese law despite decades of negotiations. The U.S. potato industry estimates that access to the Japanese market will result in an additional $150 million per year in exports.

“Table stock access to Japan was first requested almost 30 years ago. It was elevated to a top priority in U.S.-Japan plant health negotiations in September 2019. However, despite the efforts of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Japan continues to delay substantive negotiations on table stock access, including with respect to our most recent request for Japan to provide a Pest Risk Assessment (PRA),” wrote the legislators to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“The U.S. potato industry thanks Senators Cantwell and Risch, Congressmen Newhouse and Kildee, along with all the signatories to this important letter.  Access to Japan for U.S. fresh potatoes would result in a 10% increase in global exports for our industry, roughly $150 million annually. 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,” said Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council.

The entire Idaho delegation—Senators Risch and Mike Crapo and Congressmen Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher—all signed onto the letter.

The full text of the letter is HERE.

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