J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 9 POTATO GROWER 29 People, Product News Johnson Attends US-Canada Potato Meetings In DC NPPGA President Donavon Johnson traveled to Washington DC to participate in the National Potato Council (NPC) hosted Canada-US annual potato meet- ings. The purpose of the meet- ings is to collaborate on potato- related issues between the the two countries. Attendees included representa- tives from the NPC, Potatoes USA, US potato producing states and Canadian providences, USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) and Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and others. The Canada-US Potato Commit- tee agenda items included bilat- eral trade issues regarding phy- tosanitary and size/grade rules and regulations, Ministerial Exemption effect on trade, mar- keting order updates, USDA trade mitigation programs and trans- portation challenges affecting both the US and Canada. Additional topics centered around virus and disease inspec- tion/testing results for import/export of seed potatoes, research areas and the Potato Sustainability Initiative (PSI) audits. Following those discussions, the focus shifted to disease manage- ment and seed certification top- ics including state-national har- monization of standards, role of private laboratories in testing potatoes, various active virus updates, sub-committee reports on implementing seed certifica- tion changes and improvements and state changes to their seed certification programs. The final day brought both the US and Canadian seed certifica- tion officials together for the Potato Association of America (PAA) certification and business meetings. This organization rep- resents the “scientific arm” of the potato industry and has memberships from 30 countries. Certification discussion centered mostly on disease updates and health certificates. New NAFTA Signed But Tariffs Remain Leaders of U.S., Mexico and Canada jointly signed a new free trade deal intended to update the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). During the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, Presidents Trump and Pena-Nieto, along with Prime Minister Trudeau stood together and announced their intention to ask their respective legislatures to approve the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Combined, the three countries represent one of the most signif- icant trading blocks in the world. For potatoes, Canada and Mexico represent the second and third largest export markets with a combined value of over $575 million annually. Despite the formal signing of the new agreement, Mexico's tariffs on U.S. frozen fries remain in place. This is because those tar- iffs were retaliation for the U.S. imposing tariffs on steel and alu- minium on a number of coun- tries including Mexico. Those U.S. tariffs have not been elimi- nated, so the Mexicans will con- tinue to maintain their own tar- iffs until the Trump Administra- tion takes action.