Louisiana’s Sugar Industry Responds to DOC’s Sugar Deal with Mexico

By Allie Doise, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation

The Louisiana sugar industry is cautiously eyeing a deal reached this week that would stop the dumping of Mexican sugar into the U.S. market.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Tuesday announced an agreement in principle meant to bring Mexico’s subsidized sugar industry into compliance with America’s trade laws.

Jim Simon, manager of the American Sugar Cane League in Thibodaux, Louisiana, said the agreement is workable, but some things need to be watched.

 “We think we have an agreement in place that is okay,” Simon said. “But there are a few provisions in it that causes some level of concern.”

There is a particular concern that some provisions would allow Mexico to continue their dumping practices

“They are trying to put high value sugar into our market at a low price,” Simon said. “If we aren’t careful this agreement may not correct that.”

Simon said they must rely on the Trump Administration to keep the anti-dumping agreement working.

“We have of the well-being of the industry in their hands,” he said. “And we are hopeful that they will see fit to protect us from Mexican dumped sugar.”

Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, echoed Simon’s concerns about the agreement, saying that U.S. sugar producers are concerned that the agreement contains a major loophole in the section dealing with additional U.S. needs.  

“Mexico could exploit this loophole to continue to dump subsidized sugar into the U.S. market and short U.S. refineries of raw sugar inputs,” Hayes said.

Hayes also said the loophole takes away the U.S. government’s power to determine the type and polarity of any additional sugar that needs to be imported in the future. 

“We will work with Secretary Ross in the coming days to see if that loophole can be effectively closed so that the basic provisions of the agreement are not undermined and USDA can effectively manage the sugar program,” Hayes said.

Mexico’s unfair trade practices have already cost U.S. sugar farmers and producers more than $4 billion in losses and are jeopardizing the 142,000 jobs in 22 states.