U.S. Farm Report Mailbag
U.S. Farm Report
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Free Trade & Sugar
Sep 22, 2010
It was disappointing to see “John’s World” delve into a common misperception about U.S. sugar policy.
America is the world’s second-biggest sugar importer and has, by far, the most open market of any major sugar-producing country. We buy sugar from 41 foreign suppliers, 38 of which are considered developing countries. Under U.S. trade deals, we buy this sugar whether we need it or not. That’s a far cry from being a closed market, and that’s why so many foreign sugar suppliers support U.S. sugar policy.
I’d also point out that China, Brazil, and India are the culprits for holding up America’s free trade agenda—sugar has nothing to do with it. These countries are targeting the direct government payments that many U.S. farmers depend on for a safety net. Sugar producers are working closely with other commodity groups to beat back these attacks even though sugar farmers don’t receive direct government payments. Sugar is doing this because all of agriculture needs to join forces right now, not tear each other down, as your commentary last week advocated.
American Sugar Alliance
***Editor's Note: Below is a transcript of John's comments on this subject...
I ACCIDENTALLY WATCHED A POLITICAL COMMERCIAL THIS WEEK FOR A U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE. LIKE MANY CAMPAIGN ADS IT WAS MOSTLY A BARRAGE OF NEGATIVE WORDS NO DOUBT CAREFULLY TESTED TO TRIGGER ANGER ABOUT THE OPPONENT.
TO MY SURPRISE THE ANNOUNCER DETAILED WITH CONTEMPTUOUS TONES HOW THE OPPONENT'S SUPPORT FOR FREE TRADE WAS COSTING AMERICAN JOBS. THE JOBS CREATED BY FREE TRADE WERE LEFT UNMENTIONED, OF COURSE, BECAUSE THEY WERE PROBABLY IN ANOTHER CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. AT A TIME WHEN LEADERS IN BOTH PARTIES ARE BETTING THE ECONOMY ON GROWTH TO SOLVE OUR UNEMPLOYMENT AND DEFICIT PROBLEMS, TALKING DOWN FREE TRADE IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.
INCREASING EXPORTS IS A CENTRAL PART OF THE SOLUTION. BUT IT WOULD APPEAR FREE TRADE IS ONLY A GOOD THING WHEN IT FLOWS IN OUR FAVOR. WHY WE THINK TRADING PARTNERS WOULD GO ALONG WITH THAT MYSTIFIES ME, BUT IT APPARENTLY PLAYS WELL IN POLITICAL POLLS.
AGRICULTURE IS A PARTICIPANT IN THIS IDEA OF ONE-WAY FREE TRADE. OUR SUGAR PROGRAM IS STARK EXAMPLE OF PROTECTIONISM, AND YET MOST AG ADVOCATES ARE RELUCTANT TO TAKE IT ON IN ORDER TO FURTHER TRADE IN OTHER COMMODITIES. THERE HAS BEEN A GREAT DEAL OF TALK ABOUT AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM. WHILE MANY FEEL WE HAVE A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS, PERHAPS THE MORE POPULAR MEANING IS WE SHOULD BE AN EXCEPTION TO TRADE RULES OTHER NATIONS MUST FOLLOW.