On Friday, May 17, 2013, in Mexico City, Mexico USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack led U.S. and Mexican agribusiness representatives in a discussion of priority issues affecting North American agriculture. The roundtable’s participants represented the breadth and diversity of agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico. Representatives from Grupo Bimbo, Gruma, Driscoll’s, Cargill, and others joined the Secretary, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne, and Acting Deputy Under Secretaries Suzanne Heinen and Max Holtzman to share their views on the opportunities and obstacles facing increased agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico.
Secretary Vilsack began the dialogue by briefing the participants on his meeting earlier in the day with the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture, Enrique Martinez y Martinez, noting both secretaries’ commitment to holding a Consultative Committee on Agriculture meeting in 2013.
Following brief introductions by the participants, the Secretary answered participants’ questions on issues ranging from climate change to biotechnology, ethanol, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and the Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill currently being discussed in the U.S. Congress. One roundtable participant conveyed his hope for immigration reform in the United States, especially related to H2-A visas, and its potential to benefit agricultural producers and workers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Secretary Vilsack expressed his desire for both the U.S. and Mexican governments to be more proactive in addressing bilateral agricultural trade issues that will strengthen our trade relationship. In addition, the Secretary voiced his support for renewable energy initiatives and enabling consumers to choose organic and/or conventional food. The roundtable enabled the Secretary and the participants to inform one another of their concerns and perceived opportunities to expand U.S.-Mexico bilateral agricultural trade.
Mexico is the United States third-largest agricultural trading partner with bilateral trade totaling $36.6 billion in 2012. The United States exported a record $19.5 billion in agricultural, forest, and fishery products to Mexico in 2012, which represents 13 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports.