Cantwell, Risch Applaud Trade Agreement on Fresh American-Grown Potatoes

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Jim Risch (R-ID) celebrated a major victory for the U.S. potato industry. For 20 years, U.S. potato growers have faced an unresolved trade dispute with China over the export of fresh American-grown potatoes to Chinese markets. In January 2020, the United States reached a Phase 1 trade deal with China that will facilitate the export of potatoes grown in Idaho, Washington, and other states to markets in China. Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced the implementation of this deal that will be effective immediately and estimated to be worth $20 million per year to the U.S. potato industry.

“This is a big win for Washington and Idaho potato growers and job creation throughout our states,” said Cantwell. “Senator Risch and I, along with our Northwest colleagues, have been working on a bipartisan basis to get more access for potatoes in Asia.”

“Fresh Idaho potatoes are world renowned for their quality, and when China – the third highest destination for Idaho’s agricultural products – is closed off, both producers and consumers lose,” said Risch. “For two decades, we have fought to deliver fresh potatoes into the hands of Chinese customers, and I am pleased to see the U.S.-China Phase 1 Agreement doing just that. This is a significant victory for potato growers throughout Idaho and the U.S.”

The U.S. potato industry is valued at $3.7 billion, and potato growers’ success relies on free and fair access to international markets for one out of five potatoes produced. Accessing China’s markets for U.S. fresh potatoes has been a priority for growers since 2000, and last year, Cantwell and Risch led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Trump administration urging trade representatives to make the U.S. potato industry a priority during trade negotiations with China.

Last month, the U.S. announced that American-grown chipping potatoes will be included in Phase 1 of the trade agreement with China. This development will result in millions of dollars in economic growth and thousands of jobs, and has the potential to make China a top five market for U.S. potatoes.