Making Sense of the Sugar Market

Published in the February 2014 Issue Published online: Feb 10, 2014 Allen Thayer
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Ending global sugar subsidies in favor of a free market might be the best way to get real reform on trade policy.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) proposed a resolution in June to instruct the Obama administration to target the foreign sugar subsidies that are distorting world prices. It urges Congress to adopt a global negotiating strategy in which the United States would end its quotas and tariffs on imported sugar if foreign nations would simultaneously stop subsidizing their own sugar growers. Once foreign subsidies are eradicated, U.S. sugar policy would be eliminated. This strategy is referred to as “zero for zero” and makes more sense than unilaterally ending the U.S. sugar defense program.

The current trade policy permits other nations to use it as a form of welfare. Subsidies in Mexico, Brazil, Thailand and India are the most egregious. But the administration and congressional progressives are uninterested in solving that problem. Large exporters meanwhile continue to dump sugar on the American market, growing their subsidies and putting American growers in an even worse disadvantage.

Tom Giovanetti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation, delves into the complex issue in a guest column on page 28. This is where our attention ought to be.

Another reason to not weaken U.S. sugar policy is found in the ASA column by Phillip Hayes on page 30. This involves tactics used by candy lobbyists looking to outsource U.S. sugar production while undercutting American growers.

Closer to home Colorado sugar grower Paul Schlagel is the February Sugar Producer Grower of the Month.

Schlagel had to deal with more than excess sugar on the market. Remember the 2013 Colorado floods?

Growers on the Front Range, like Schlagel, will not forget them.

Find out why he’s in the sugar industry. He also urges other growers to get involved in advocating genetically modified organisms (GMOs). He helped form the Farmers Alliance for Integrated Resources (FAIR) to do that and much more.

Sugarbeet growers can find out what new varieties Syngenta is introducing this season. Two nematode-tolerant varieties will be of special interest to growers in Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming.

An expansive look at the complete utilization of the sugarbeet is offered by Dr. Victoria L. Finkenstadt of the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill, starting on page 20.

More uses exist beyond sugar and animal feed. Its utilization in every sustainable, economic and ethical way is essential in a competitive global marketplace.

With sugarbeet payments headed south for the 2013 crop and potentially the next two crops, it’s beneficial to learn about other value-added products that may create other uses for beets. U.S. sugar producers are among the world’s most efficient. To remain so researchers and industry leaders must know what’s possible in the future.