(Ripon Advance News Service) – The Biden administration must continue to prioritize America’s sugarcane farmers over foreign sugar suppliers, according to U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA).
“Agriculture is a critical part of Louisiana’s economy and sugarcane in particular results in $3 billion annually in economic value and supports 16,000 direct and indirect jobs,” Rep. Graves said in an Oct. 24 statement. “But when other countries illegally subsidize their sugarcane production and undercut prices in the United States — this is salt in the wound for our local farmers that are already struggling through the crippling prices of fuel, fertilizer, transportation, and labor.”
Rep. Graves reiterated that concern when he recently joined his fellow co-chairs of the Congressional Sugar Caucus in opposing any increase in the tariff-rate quotas for sugar or additional access provided to Mexico for the 2021-2022 marketing year.
“We are asking the Biden administration to ensure the United States doesn’t allow subsidized, foreign sugarcane to enter our markets and further undermine Louisiana’s sugarcane farmers,” he said.
In a Sept. 27 letter sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Gina Raimondo, the congressman and his colleagues wrote that any additional increases for the upcoming 2022-2023 marketing year should wait until April 2023, once more is known about the current sugar beet and sugar cane crops.
There’s no need to rely on Mexico, the members wrote, because the USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates for August projects the current stocks-to-use ratio at 14.4 percent.
“That suggests we will have more than 1.8 million tons of sugar stocks on hand leading into the fall sugarcane and sugar beet harvest season,” wrote Rep. Graves and his colleagues. “USDA has determined that a stocks-to-use ratio of at least 13.5 percent is adequate to supply the U.S. market. Thus, the U.S. sugar market is adequately supplied by USDA’s own measure.”
Additionally, according to their letter, the Biden administration in July raised import access from Mexico and from America’s WTO trading partners.
“Given that USDA has already undertaken both of those actions and that we now have ample current sugar stocks relative to use, there is no need for additional actions at this time,” wrote the lawmakers, who included U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Mike Simpson (R-ID).