IDFA and other food industry organizations fired back last week against the American Sugar Alliance's recent attempts to place restrictions on U.S. sugar trade with Mexico. In a joint letter, the groups urged Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to reject the alliance's recommendations, which would roll back provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"These proposals strongly suggest a regime of managed trade in sweeteners that would lead to inadequate supplies in the U.S. sugar market and encourage copycat initiatives that would harm job creation in U.S. exporting sectors," the letter stated.
In late October, the alliance released a report calling for modifications to the North American sweetener market that would restrict Mexico's ability to import sugar from third-party countries and abolish the refined sugar re-export program. The report, "Mexican and U.S. Sugar Industry Recommendations to the U.S. and Mexican Governments to Make NAFTA Work Better," has been circulating informally in government and private-sector circles.
Sugar trade is critical to IDFA members that use refined sugar in dairy products like ice cream and flavored milk. With current U.S. stocks of refined sugar at historically low levels, IDFA believes the alliance proposals would further tighten sweetener supplies and cause job losses on both sides of the border.
This is the second time in two years that the sugar lobby has made this policy recommendation. The first attempt to include sweetener trade restrictions in the 2008 Farm Bill was blocked by efforts of a coalition, which included IDFA.
The other groups signing the letter are the American Bakers Association, American Beverage Association, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Consumer Federation of America, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), Grocery Manufacturers Association, Independent Bakers Association, National Association of Manufacturers, National Confectioners Association, National Foreign Trade Council, Sweetener Users Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
For more information, contact Katie Sparrow, IDFA manager of international trade, at (202) 220-3507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.