Sugar representatives testify on industry crisis to the Senate Agriculture Committee.
According to a recent ASA news release, sugar representatives from Michigan, New York, Minnesota and Hawaii testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee July 26 that prices American sugar farmers receive for their crop have plunged 34 percent since the start of the 1996 farm bill.
They also noted the grocery-store price of sugar or sugar-containing products have not dropped but risen from 6 to 10 percent during the three-year industry decline.
Officials said the crisis would continue unless flaws in existing trade agreements are fixed and loopholes permitting companies to circumvent import quotas are closed.
Ray VanDriessche, president of the ASGA and Michigan grower, told the committee other growers from around the country have asked him to convey that "economic crisis is plaguing our industry."
"This is not a crisis of a particular group of growers or growers in a particular region. Without exception, this economic crisis is hitting every grower through the industry because every grower's income is directly tied to the price of refined sugar," he said. "The current market conditions have not only put our farmers at risk, but also our processing factories, their workers and our rural communities."
Industry representatives gave three reasons for plummeting prices:
- Tariff rate quota circumvention by "stuffed molasses" brought in mainly through Canada.
- Threat of increased Mexican imports under NAFTA.
- Increased domestic production.