The Louisiana sugar industry is following the trade negotiations in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership accord with a keen eye, said Jim Simon, manager of the American Sugar Cane League.
"It’s important that the trade agreement doesn’t trade away the ability of our 220-year-old industry to compete,” Simon said. "But it’s not just about Louisiana. It's also about the effect TPP could have on the 20 other sugar producing states in the country.”
Simon said Mexico, a U. S. North American Free Trade Agreement trading partner, depressed sugar prices by dumping subsidized sugar on the American market.
"A few years ago, when the U.S. market price rose fairly because of market conditions, the Mexican industry flooded the market with government-subsidized sugar that sent prices down to unsustainable levels. That’s not how a free market is supposed to work,” Simon said. "We don’t want that scenario to be repeated.”
Simon said Representative Charles Boustany of Lafayette has sent a letter to Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) cautioning against making any long-term trade agreements that may jeopardize current domestic sugar policy.
"Without an effective U.S. sugar policy, the sugar industry’s contribution to our economy would be jeopardized,” Boustany wrote. "In Louisiana, the loss of this economic engine would be devastating. I strongly urge that every effort be made to reach a mutually acceptable outcome.”
Farmer Mike Melancon of Breaux Bridge and president of the American Sugar Cane League praised Boustany’s efforts.
"Louisiana’s sugar growers are among the most efficient in the world and America’s consumers have come to rely on us and the other sugar producing states for a safe and dependable source of sugar,” Melancon said. "Rep. Boustany understands just how critical a safe domestic food supply is to the United States. He is also very aware of just how important the sugarcane industry is to Louisiana’s economic wellbeing.” -30-