U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador today to discuss a looming decree proposed by the Mexican president that would ban imports of biotech corn into the country. The talks come on the heels of an aggressive campaign by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) encouraging the Biden administration to intervene in the dispute.
“We are very appreciative of Secretary Vilsack for taking the lead on this issue that is so important to American corn growers,” said NCGA CEO Jon Doggett. “Today’s meeting shows that the Biden administration is listening to NCGA and American corn grower leaders and that Secretary Vilsack is willing to go to the mat for America’s farmers. This is an extremely important development.”
A statement released tonight by USDA showed how strongly Secretary Vilsack feels about this issue.
“We must find a way forward soon and I emphasized in no uncertain terms that – absent an acceptable resolution of the issue – the U.S. Government would be forced to consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our legal rights under the USMCA,” Vilsack said in a statement.
Pres. López Obrador has promised to enact a decree that would end imports of corn grown using biotech and certain herbicides by 2024. Biotech corn makes up over 90% of U.S. corn crops.
NCGA has been at the forefront of this issue. In a Reuters article published in September, NCGA called on USTR to intervene in the dispute and then followed up with an op-ed that reached across Washington. NCGA has also worked closely with Congress on the issue.
“We will continue to press this issue with the Biden administration and other policymakers,” said Doggett. “But having the secretary of USDA in our corner comes as a great relief, as you can’t ask for a tougher or better advocate than Secretary Vilsack.”