News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) –Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) hosted a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Washington state farmers and growers so that he could hear first-hand about the devastating effects Mexican tariffs are having on the state’s agriculture industry. Murray has been pushing the Obama administration hard to solve this problem, and in the meeting she expressed her frustration that Washington state farmers continued to bear the brunt of a problem that they had nothing to do with creating.

“I asked Secretary LaHood to attend this meeting to hear directly from our farmers and growers about the devastating impact that these tariffs are having on Washington state,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I have been pushing the Administration on this issue for months, but I am hoping that today’s meeting will help them understand the urgency of the situation. I am extremely frustrated that this problem still has not been solved. And I am going to continue pushing both the Obama Administration and the Mexican government to make the necessary changes that will allow Washington state farmers to once again compete on a level playing field.”

Participants in today’s meeting also discussed the importance of the opportunity to express their concerns to Secretary LaHood:

"It is so great that Senator Murray has been such a strong advocate for our industry," said Matt Harris, from the Washington State Potato Commission. "She understands that these tariffs have torn apart our industry and hurt our workers and our livelihoods. We really appreciate her bringing Secretary LaHood here today to here our concerns."

"We are grateful for Senator Murray's hard work on this issue and we appreciate her bringing Secretary LaHood here to Washington state to listen to our concerns," said Bill Zirkle, owner of Zirkle Fruit Company. "The retaliatory tariffs harm growers, workers, and many communities in Washington state that depend on healthy apple, pear and cherry sales.  I asked Secretary LaHood to move forward with a plan as fast as he can, and I am hoping that this meeting gives him some more perspective on the urgency of this situation."

 Senator Murray has been pushing hard on both the Obama administration and the Mexican government solve this problem and end the devastating tariffs.

  • On July 26, 2010, she included language in a key Senate spending bill that calls on the administration to put forward a plan that would end retaliatory tariffs on Washington state agricultural products by October 1, 2010. The bill passed the Transportation Appropriations subcommittee, which Murray chairs, as well as the full Appropriations committee, and will now head to the full Senate for consideration.

  • On May 28, 2010, Murray sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him move forward with a plan to end Mexican tariffs that have had a devastating impact on the Washington state agricultural industry. Murray sent the letter after President Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. During the meeting, the two presidents discussed the tariffs Mexico has placed on U.S. products. Mexico has targeted eighty-seven Washington state products in this dispute and hundreds of jobs have been lost.

  • Prior to the meeting between President Obama and Mexican President Calderon, Senator Murray sent a President a letter urging him to use the meeting as an opportunity to work to end Mexican tariffs that have had a devastating impact on the Washington state farmers and families.  She has also spoken with senior White House officials to reemphasize that point.

  • On May 4, 2010 Senator Murray met with the Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan to discuss the impact of Mexican tariffs on Washington state families, jobs, and agriculture industry. Murray urged the Mexican government to end the retaliatory tariffs that are harming Washington state families, and to use Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s upcoming visit to Washington, D.C. as an opportunity to resolve the differences.

  • In early March, at a hearing of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray pushed Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to move faster on a plan to resume cross-border trucking with Mexico, urging him to resolve the situation to save American jobs while ensuring the safety of the public at large.

  • In October 2009, Senator Murray hosted a meeting between Washington state farmers and Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari to make sure he understood the local impact of the retaliatory tariffs.  In April of that year, she joined a bipartisan Senate letter to the Obama Administration urging the end of these punitive tariffs.