Limes: Mexico’s new green gold

April 10, 2014

LimesCNN, 4/10/14

Dressed in a white cowboy hat and shirt in the merciless sun, 63-year-old Juan Leana Malpica proudly pulls a branch down in his lime grove and cups a fruit. His limes, he says, set themselves apart by their juiciness.

He has been growing the fruit for the last 12 years and has never experienced a time of such upheaval.

Officially, lime prices are in a spiral of hyperinflation, the national average jumping at a monthly average of around 50% this year.

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Past and future collide as Mexico fights over GMO corn

November 13, 2013

Reuters, 11/12/2013

corn - loose yellow cornReligion, culture and science are competing for primacy in the debate on how acceptable corn produced by genetically modified organisms (GMO) is in a country where farmers first domesticated maize about 8,000 years ago.

Last month a federal judge in Mexico City created a stir by ordering a temporary halt to any new GMO corn permits, accepting a lawsuit brought by opponents of the crop. It was widely interpreted as a definitive ban on the commercial use of GMO corn in Mexico, but experts say it will likely just delay any resolution into 2014 or beyond.

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U.S. Reaches Deal With Mexican Growers on Tomato Imports

February 4, 2013

tomatoesBloomberg, 2/3/2013

The U.S. Commerce Department and tomato growers from Mexico agreed to revive a 17-year-old pact governing prices for the goods, potentially averting a trade war between the two nations.

The agency and Mexican producers yesterday signed a draft agreement to prevent imports of fresh or chilled tomatoes from Mexico from being sold in the U.S. below production costs. The Commerce Department in September issued a preliminary decision to end the pricing accord, in place in various versions since 1996, after a complaint from U.S. tomato growers.

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The Mexico-Canada Guest-Worker Program: A Model For The U.S.?

February 1, 2013

canada mexicoNPR, 1/31/2013

In the U.S., farmers and farm workers alike say the current system to import temporary workers, especially in agriculture, is slow and fraught with abuses.

But the shape of a new guest-worker program is still being hashed out. Some say the U.S. should import temporary workers the same way Canada does. For nearly four decades, the governments of Canada and Mexico have cooperated to fill agriculture jobs that Canadian citizens won’t do, and that Mexicans are clamoring to get.

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Mexico’s Pena Nieto to launch drive to end hunger

January 22, 2013

Enrique PeñaNieto 2Reuters, 1/18/2013

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto unveils his plans to eradicate extreme poverty on Monday, a blight affecting more than 10 percent of the population in Latin America’s second biggest economy.

Hoping to emulate the recent success of Brazil in lifting millions out of poverty, the 46-year-old Pena Nieto will kick off a “national crusade against hunger” in southern Mexico in Chiapas, one of the states hardest hit.

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Could Farms Survive Without Illegal Labor?

August 17, 2011

The New York Times, Room for Debate, 8/17/11

In Room for Debate, The Times invites knowledgeable outside contributors to discuss news events and other timely issues.

This week Benjamin Shute of Hearty Roots Community FarmLisa García Bedolla of Center for Latino Policy ResearchPhilip Martin, an economist at UC Davis, Tamar Jacoby of ImmigrationWorks USAMichael J. Roberts, an economist at North Carolina State University and Karina Gallardo, an economist at Washington State University present their various views on the topic: “Could Farms Survive Without Illegal Labor?”

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Mexicans can’t get enough of fungus that ruins corn

August 17, 2011

The Miami Herald, 8/17/11

At this time of year, when corn grows high, some farmers go into their fields hoping that a disease has infected their crops.

They inspect for swollen husks, a telltale sign that a parasitic fungus has spread into a spongy iridescent mass inside the ears.

The farmers are pleased, for the fungus is one of the greatest delicacies of the Mexican kitchen. It’s been called the Mexican truffle, and a “food of the gods.” The unique, earthy taste has been part of local cuisine since Aztec times.

The name of the fungus in the indigenous Nahuatl language is huitlacoche (pronounced weet-la-KOH-chay, sort of rhyming with Don Quixote). As hard as that may be to say, it’s infinitely sweeter sounding than the English name: corn smut. That moniker is a slur to huitlacoche’s complex flavors and defamation of its culinary properties.

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Agriculture sector grows wary in Mexico

December 11, 2010

Houston Chronicle, 12/11/2010

The drug violence in Mexico has a new potential victim: the potentagricultural sector in that country and its multibillion-dollar ties to consumers, farmers and ranchers in the United States.

So far, two South Texas produce companies have changed the way they conduct business there. It’s primarily how they move strawberries, melons, onions and other produce out of Mexico that has been affected rather than the growing practices themselves, company representatives said.

While officials agreed that the U.S.’s booming agricultural tradewith Mexico was not facing significant risks from drug cartels now, they were less certain it could stand up to several more years of drug-related challenges.

Curtis DeBerry, who owns Boerne-based Progreso Produce, said it’s in the back of everyone’s mind.

“It has the potential to be a problem,” he added.

Progreso already is transporting commodities grown in places like the city of Tampico on Mexico’s gulf coast and the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico in multi-truck caravans from Ciudad Victoria in Tamaulipas state to Texas about 300 miles to the north.

The border region is the riskiest area in Mexico, and drivers need the added security, DeBerry said.

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Arizona bans Mexico produce checks

November 11, 2010

Reuters, 11/11/2010

Arizona has banned produce inspections by its agriculture department in Mexico over fears that escalating drug violence there could put inspectors lives at risk, authorities said on Thursday.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture, or ADA, said it took the decision earlier this month not to send inspectors to northern Sonora state to check fruit and vegetable quality prior to import, citing fears of surging drug violence there.

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Border Violence Spills Onto Mexican Ranches

July 7, 2010

Associated Press, 7/7/2010

LAREDO, Texas — Mexican rancher Isidro Gutierrez watched with disgust as federal inspectors here chalked a long stripe on his steer’s hindquarter. The animal could not be imported because its breed can be vulnerable to disease.

If inspections were still being done across the Rio Grande in Mexico, routine rejections like that would be just an inconvenience. But drug violence in the border region has chased American cattle inspectors back to the U.S. side, so Gutierrez has to pay brokers in both countries and hire a truck to take back rejected animals.

“It’s cheaper to kill him here,” Gutierrez said.

The drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border is now spilling into the region’s agriculture, threatening the safety of ranchers and farmers, slowing down what was expected to be the best harvest in years, and raising the risk that some crops will rot in the fields.

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