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46848

U.S. and Mexico to Share More Research

After visiting the USDA’s “climate hub” at Iowa State University Thursday, the agriculture secretaries of the U.S. and Mexico said they want to share more research on ways to help farmers adapt to a changing climate.

Speaking at the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that he learned at ISU that “the last five years of weather experiences in the Midwest are outside of the range of the previous 100 years.”

In 2013 Mexico experience every kind of extreme weather, unusual freezes, severe drought and the worst flooding in a century, said Enrique Martinez y Martinez, who is that country’s secretary of agriculture, livestock, rural development, fisheries and food.

Martinez said that he is interested in more collaboration and scientific exchanges between the two nations.

In both nations, crop insurance could be a way to help farmers deal with more extreme weather associated with climate change. Martinez said that about half of all planted acres in Mexico are covered by some form of insurance.

Martinez said that a major problem for his nation’s horticultural producers is lack of refrigerated storage. His government is working to provide centralized storage for smaller producers as well as more processing. Mexico is very competitive in labor-intensive fruit and vegetable crops, he said.

During a press conference later, Vilsack emphasized that trade disputes such as the current World Trade Organization challenge to the U.S. country of origin law for meats will not interfere with overall trade between the two countries.

“They are one of our top trading partners and I’m fairly certain we’re one of their top trading partners,” Vilsack said of Mexico. “At the end of the day, no matter how this gets resolved, we are and we remain very strong trading partners.

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