soybean field

USSEC Participates in Roundtable with Secretary Vilsack in Mexico City

USSEC participated in an exclusive roundtable in Mexico City on May 17.  The focus of discussion was the importance of the food and agricultural trade as an engine of economic growth.  USSEC was represented by USSEC Director of Americas Region Francisco de la Torre.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met privately before the roundtable with Mexican Agriculture Secretary Enrique Martinez y Martinez in Secretary Vilsack’s first official visit to Mexico under the new Mexican administration.  Secretary Vilsack’s goals for this visit were to build a relationship with Secretary Martinez and to proactively identify potential issues with food production.  Secretaries Vilsack and Martinez defined three major challenges for the U.S. and Mexico’s food and agricultural trade:  to continue to feed the world; the need to increase agricultural productivity as much in the next 40 years as in the last 10,000; and the need to increase productivity under the specter of climate change.  Both secretaries agreed that more collaboration between the two governments is crucial.  Mexico is the largest market in the Americas for U.S. exports and one of the U.S.’s largest trading partners.
Participants of the roundtable were Jose Manuel Arana, President, Mexican Operations, Tyson de Mexico; Mario Stata, General Manager, Mexican Operations, Driscoll’s; Valeria Olson, Director, Governmental Affairs, Cargill Mexico; Luis Musi, Vice President, Sigma Alimentos; Alfonso Cebrebros, Director, Government Relations, Gruma; Eugenio Leal, Director of Agricultural Businesses, Union Pacific de Mexico; Ricardo de Abreu Souza, President and Director General, Ingredion; and David Hernandez, Chief Procurement Officer, Grupo Bimbo.   Representing USDA operations were Mitch Skalicky, Regional Vice President, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW); Alejandro Monteagudo, Executive Director, AgroBio Mexico; and USSEC’s Francisco de la Torre.  Representing the U.S. Embassies in Mexico City and Washington, D. C. were Anthony Wayne, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Mexico City; Max Holtzman, Acting Deputy Under Secretary, Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP); Suzanne Heinen, Acting Deputy Under Secretary, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS); Dan Berman, Minister Counselor, Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS); and Brian Goggin, Director, FAS, Agricultural Trade Office.
Topics discussed at the roundtable were biotechnology and sustainability; U.S. exports of poultry and eggs and Mexico’s desire for reciprocity in those areas; the immigration bill and the importance of the temporary worker program; the need to create homogenous processes to speed up trade; implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program; the Farm Bill; biofuels mandates; and the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Mr. de la Torre represented the interests of U.S. soy and spoke to the group about USSEC’s role in food and agricultural trade.  He specifically discussed the High Impact Program.  Mr. de la Torre also met privately with the representatives from Grupo Maseca, which produces 80% of Mexico’s corn tortillas, and Grupo Bimbo, which has the largest market share of breads and wheat tortillas, to discuss the supplementation of tortillas with soy protein.

Sec. Tom Vilsack, Amb. Anthony Wayne, Minister Counselor Dan Berman, Mitch Skalicky (U.S. Wheat Associates, Mexico), Francisco de la Torre (U.S. Soybean Export Council), and David Hernandez (Grupo Bimbo)