Vilsack comments on Mexican corn situation
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The United States has no plans to back down or compromise on its opposition to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s plan to ban the importation of genetically modified yellow corn, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters here Monday after his speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention.
Vilsack discussed the corn issue while President Biden is traveling in Mexico. U.S. farm leaders had urged Biden to raise the issue with López Obrador, but it does not appear that corn or other trade issues are likely to be high on the agenda when the two meet or when they hold a trilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Vilsack is here and Trade Representative Katherine Tai is not traveling with Biden this week.
Vilsack said that the U.S. government is scheduled to reply to Mexico’s proposal to delay the ban until 2025 by Jan. 15, and that Tai has spoken to her Mexican counterpart recently about the issue.
He told reporters the United States believes in a “science-based system” of international trade, and that if Mexico does not agree to withdraw its proposal the Biden administration “will push” the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement on trade rules.
Vilsack said he has told López Obrador that he will not be able to find non-GMO corn to import to feed livestock, and that if he tries that approach the Mexican livestock industry will be smaller and there will be less meat for Mexican consumers to buy.
“There is no reason to compromise” on the matter, Vilsack said. The issue is about recognizing the heritage and culture of white corn production, he said, adding that he believes Mexican consumers will still prefer white corn to make tortillas.
The larger issue, Vilsack said, is about “a trading system with less friction, not more friction,” and letting the market decide whether consumers want a product.