Hoeven Working to Support U.S. Sugar Producers

Senator Urges USDA to Avoid Prematurely Increasing Sugar Imports

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support American sugar producers and avoid taking any premature actions, including increasing sugar imports. The senator cited the November World Agriculture Supply and Demand (WASDE), which shows sugar stocks are more than adequate to meet domestic needs.

“Our sugar growers are facing extreme harvest challenges this season, with many Midwest growers having to leave their crop in the fields due to the late season rainfall and early snow,” said Hoeven. “USDA should avoid taking any premature actions, like prematurely increasing sugar imports, which will only compound the challenges facing sugar growers.”  

Hoeven made the case in a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. The full text of the letter is below: 

I write today to express concern over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent announcement regarding the nation’s sugar supply. I urge the Department to avoid taking premature action that would harm American sugar producers. An increase in supplies outside of the normal December adjustment to the 2017 Mexican suspension agreements could hurt famers who have already faced significant challenges this year.

Across the country, U.S. sugarbeet and sugarcane growers have experienced harvest challenges. In the upper Midwest, growers have abandoned entire fields due to extreme late season rainfall and excessive early snow. And recent freezing temperatures and cold weather may impact harvest for sugarcane growers in the south.

Despite these difficulties, U.S. sugar supply remains sufficient to meet market demand because beet harvest has just ended and cane harvest is in full swing. The November World Agriculture Supply and Demand (WASDE) shows 2019/20 beginning stocks at 14.5% – a level more than adequate to meet domestic needs.

If USDA determines additional sugar is needed after the December WASDE, product should be sourced from Mexico in accordance with the procedures outlined in the 2017 agreements. USDA predicted Mexico would export 750,000 short tons onto the world market in 2019/20, more than enough to fulfill any potential shortfall. I am concerned that allowing additional imports from other nations – while an adequate supply of Mexican sugar exists – is unnecessary and would result in unintended harm to farmers. 

I urge you to avoid taking premature action that would cause irreparable damage to farmers during an already difficult time. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.