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Michigan sugar beet growers support new deal with Mexico

Henk Kosters

A re-negotiated trade deal with Mexico will restrict the flow of subsidized sugar from Mexico into the US market.

Michigan farmers say Mexico was flooding the US with subsidized sugar, allowing them to undersell domestic growers.

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee said particularly in his mid-michigan district, Mexican sugar was hurting farm families.

“Those families depend on a sugar industry that is priced based on the actual cost of production. They were having to accept prices that were less than the cost of production, that was going to put a lot of these families out of business. It would have been really bad for mid-Michigan.”

Ray VanDriessche is with the Michigan Sugar Company, which he identifies as the third largest sugar beet producer in the U.S. He said Mexico failed to uphold suspension agreements that would have limited the amount of sugar the country could import.

“That is why the suspension agreement dispute took place in the first place. Mexico was not abiding by the rules of the agreement and was flooding the market with sugar that should not have been there.”

The amount of import sugar allowed into the U.S. is set by the Secretary of Agriculture each year.

The new deal includes a penalty for illegal sugar dumping which will reduce allowable sugar imports by twice the amount of sugar illegally dumped in the United States in the current calendar year.

VanDriessche said the deal is going to put the sugar market back in balance.