Minn-Dak Petitions President On CAFTA

Published online: Mar 31, 2004
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Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative of Wahpeton, ND, today hosted a gathering of local and state government officials as they signed a petition directed to Pres. George W. Bush regarding the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The Minn-Dak Cooperative and its 500 shareholders are vigorously oppoed to the recently negotiated agreement with the six Central American countries, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. Their petitions tell Pres. Bush of their vehement opposition to CAFTA and other pending free trade negotiations that threaten the stability of the U.S. market and expose the domestic industry to excessive imports of government subsidized sugar. "The U.S. is already the fourth largest importer of sugar in the world and does not need additional imports of foreign sugar," said Minn-Dak Chairman Victor Krabbenhoft of Moorehead, MN. "This agreement along with several others Ambassador Zoellick intends to negotiate, will have a devastating impact on our industry, our region, our farms and communities.This is a fight for our jogs and our continued existence." The petition drive is occurring throughout the Red River Valley, America's largest sugarbeet growing region with more than 613,000 acres of beets planted annually in Minnesota and North Dakota. Minn-Dak's President David Roche indicated cautious optimism about the struggle over the trade agreements. "During recent visits to Washington, we detected real concern from members of congress about the number of American jobs which could be lost as the result of ill-advised trade agreements. We do not intend to give up our jobs in the sugar fields and factories without a fight," he said. Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative is owned by 500 shareholders located within 40 miles of Wahpeton, ND. More than 105,000 acres of sugarbeets are planted annually producing more than 600 million pounds of sugar. About 75,000 acres are grown in Minnesota and 30,000 in North Dakota. Minn-Dak employes more than 600 workers with a gross annual payroll of over $14 million. Based on current consumption levels, the sugar produced at Minn-Dak supplies the annual sugar needs of more than 9.5 million Americans.