With his end-of-July retirement date rapidly approaching, John Keeling appeared at the 2019 Potatoes USA Annual Meeting for the last time as executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council.
Keeling briefed 100 or so National Potato Promotion Board, Potatoes USA staff and other potato industry members in a wide-ranging and informal talk on March 13. Keeling touched on potato trade with Mexico, President Trump’s trade agenda, changes to school nutrition programs, transportation and infrastructure legislation and other topics.
Trade was the hot-button topic.
Keeling said Trump must manage to craft a deal with China that helps agriculture.
“There’s a great opportunity for us with the China negotiation,” he said, “It’s about the opportunity to create market access for potatoes where market access didn’t exist before.”
Keeling also stressed the importance of the U.S. signing a bilateral trade agreement with Japan. Japan already has trade deals with the European Union and Australia, so without a trade deal the U.S. is likely to lose market share, he said.
Keeling urged potato industry leaders to continue to build and grow relationships between state and national potato groups.