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Hoeven, Peterson Help Sugar Growers; USDA Comments on Mexico
Nebraska Ag Connection - 11/27/2019

At a Red River Valley sugarbeet farm Tuesday, Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee held a meeting with Red River Valley sugar growers and Tom Astrup, CEO of American Crystal Sugar Company, Dan Younggren, president of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, and Harrison Weber, incoming executive director of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, to outline efforts to support producers who were unable to harvest their crop due to the wet fall and early snowstorm, including:

- Working with USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey to secure disaster assistance funding for sugarbeet growers.

- Urging USDA to avoid any premature actions, including increasing sugar imports.

Sugarbeet growers, who were impacted by severe weather, are facing unique circumstances as the work to recover, including the inability to complete harvest and budgeting constraints faced by the cooperative. The current disaster programs do not account for these constraints, which is why Hoeven and Peterson are working with USDA to secure disaster assistance.

"Producers across North Dakota have faced real challenges this harvest and we're doing all we can to provide much-needed relief," said Hoeven. "Many of our sugar growers were forced to leave their crop in the ground due to the late season rainfall and early snow. We had Under Secretary Northey here earlier this month to see firsthand what our producers are up against and we continue working with him to secure disaster assistance for our sugar growers, and to get aid out to all the impacted producers."

"This tough harvest season has created a lot of uncertainty for sugar beet growers, and we'll continue having conversations to see what can be done to address the concerns," said Peterson.

Tuesday's meeting follows producer meetings Hoeven and Peterson organized with Under Secretary Northey in North Dakota earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the USDA issued a statement after the U.S. Commerce Department announced its agreement to suspend a countervailing duty investigation on sugar from Mexico.

The USDA notified the Commerce Department of an additional need for sugar in the U.S. market of 100,000 short tons of refined sugar.* Consequently, Commerce has increased the quantity of Mexican refined sugar permitted to be exported by 100,000 short tons. This increase in Mexico's refined sugar export limit will not change the total amount of total sugar imports from Mexico, just the mix between refined and other sugar.

In recent weeks, prospects for U.S. sugar production have declined significantly due to adverse weather in both sugar beet and sugarcane regions. In the November 2019 World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimates Report, the U.S. sugar production projection declined by 572,000 short tons raw value from the previous month, while ongoing weather concerns threaten further reductions.

USDA will continue to monitor the market to assess whether supplies are adequate.

*Refined sugar of a polarity of 99.2 and above, as produced and measured on a dry basis.

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