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Forum staff reports, Published March 28 2014

Producers ask US to act against alleged Mexican sugar dumping

MOORHEAD – America’s sugar producers are asking the U.S. government to take action against Mexico’s sugar industry for pushing subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market and causing harm to U.S. growers and taxpayers.

Members of the American Sugar Alliance, which represents many U.S. sugar beet and cane farmers, filed petitions Friday with the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Commerce.

The petitions claim the Mexican sugar industry shipped surplus sugar to the United States after enjoying substantial subsidies from Mexico’s federal and state governments.

The actions by the Mexican sugar industry will likely cost U.S. sugar producers nearly $1 billion in net income for the 2013-14 crop years, according to the filings.

In December, American Crystal Sugar Co. said area growers faced losses of hundreds of dollars per acre for the most recent sugar beet crop, due to depressed sugar prices caused by Mexican imports.

Minn-Dak Farmer’s Cooperative officials said the picture was similar for that cooperative’s growers.

Both cooperatives declined to comment on Friday’s petition filings.

The petitions state that under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico has the right to export sugar to the United States on a tariff-free and quota-free basis, but they assert that Mexico does not have the right to export surplus sugar at “dumped prices” with the help of government subsidies.

Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, said the filings begin a process that if successful would result in duties being placed on Mexican sugar imports.

Hayes said the U.S. sugar industry is hopeful interim duties could be imposed as early as this summer.