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Hoeven, Heitkamp: Continue Sugar Program

From today…

Senator John Hoeven told a large gathering of sugar beet growers and processors that he is working to pass a strong, long-term farm bill which includes the sugar program. As a member of the House-Senate farm bill conference committee, the senator said he’s doing everything he can to get agreement from the conferees so that Congress can pass a farm bill by the end of this year or January.

The senator said the importance of reauthorizing the sugar program in the new farm bill was made clear from the industry’s recent experience. During the past year, the U.S. market has been flooded with surplus sugar from Mexico, which has free access to the U.S. sugar market under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Mexican exports to the U.S. approached 20 percent of total U.S. sugar demand.

“Our industry can compete with anyone anywhere when the terms are fair,” Hoeven said. “The sugar program levels the playing field with subsidized foreign producers and benefits not only our industry, but also consumers.”

And this from the Grand Forks Herald…

Among speakers at Thursday’s joint annual meeting of the cooperative and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association were North Dakota’s two senators, who gave audience members updates on efforts to pass a farm bill.

Republican Sen. John Hoeven said he is hopeful a bill can be brought before both houses of Congress in the next several weeks. … Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said she is optimistic a farm bill will be passed, and she assured sugar beet growers that if a farm bill is approved, it will contain a sugar program.

“The good news is, if we get a farm bill, the sugar program will be in there,” Heitkamp said. 

“Now, we have challenges in how they administer the sugar program,” she added.  “But we’ll meet those challenges, and we’ll continue discussions with the folks who make the decisions within USDA to make sure that that sugar program works for production agriculture in our country,” Heitkamp said.