By SEAN ELLIS

Capital Press

BOISE -- Idaho and Mexican bean industry representatives are negotiating the sale of hundreds and possibly thousands of tons of Idaho bean seed to Mexico in Boise today.

In a speed-dating type format, 13 Mexican bean industry representatives from four states are moving from table to table as they hash out deals with representatives of six Idaho bean companies.

The visit was set up to facilitate the emergency sale of Idaho bean seed to Mexico, whose bean industry was severely harmed by that country's worst drought in at least 70 years.

"The situation is tough. We probably had 20-30 percent of the production we normally would have," said Cornelio Giesbrecht, a Mexican farmer who represents a group of farmers in Durango state.

The visit had a sense of urgency, as Mexico has virtually no seed to plant for the next cropping season and needs thousands of tons of bean seed by June in order to plant next season's crop.

The seeds of the visit were sown in December during an Idaho trade mission to Mexico where Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould promised Mexican officials and farmers Gem State producers would help them get through their emergency situation.

On March 29, Gould reiterated that commitment and said the ISDA and Idaho farmers would do whatever it took to help that country out.

The Mexican growers and officials who are attending the three-day visit represent 80 percent of Mexico's total bean production. Officials from Mexico's agriculture department have told Idaho officials the country needs to purchase more than 10,000 tons of Idaho bean seed.

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