Michael Scuse, under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, USDA
Contact: Marti Pupillo
Users Urge Congress to Act on Sugar Reform
(February 11, 2015 – Orlando, Fla.) The prospects for U.S. sugar policy, managed trade agreements with Mexico and opportunities offered by the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership were some of the topics covered this week at the 2015 International Sweetener Colloquium at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando resort in Orlando, Fla. The event drew more than 450 industry professionals from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, continuing to expand the high level of attendance reached in recent years.
Hosted by IDFA and the Sweetener Users Association (SUA), the colloquium addressed the sweetener industry's latest challenges, obstacles and opportunities with presentations from a wide range of speakers. Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, serves as SUA treasurer, a position he has held for the past seven years.
USDA Under Secretary Scuse Defends Suspension Agreements
Michael Scuse, under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, kicked off the program with his keynote address on Monday, marking his fourth consecutive appearance at International Sweetener Colloquium. He discussed the U.S. sugar program and defended the administration’s actions to establish managed trade agreements with Mexico, the third largest trading partner for the United States.
Scuse said the managed trade arrangements with Mexico can help because the agreements specify how much and when to expect more imports, rather than sudden and unexpected inflows of Mexican sugar. Noting that USDA is required by law to ensure adequate sugar supplies at reasonable prices, he said the current anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations involving Mexican sugar imports have led to uncertainty in the market and among other U.S. trading partners as well.
Mexico has sugar, the United States needs sugar, he said, so “let’s” get the suspension agreements finalized. He called the agreements, which would suspend the two investigations, the best possible outcome.
IDFA and SUA oppose the agreements, saying they will only contribute to problems resulting from the current U.S. sugar policy through increased restrictions on sugar imports from Mexico. The organizations were encouraged, however, by the under secretary’s recognition that USDA may need to consider additional imports of sugar to supply the U.S. market.
Scuse also touched on the importance of pending trade agreements to U.S. agriculture. The under secretary and his department are responsible for implementing provisions of the federal sugar program, which remains unchanged under the current Farm Bill.
The sugar-using industries, including dairy, oppose the current U.S. sugar program because it manipulates sugar supplies, creating unnecessary instability in sugar markets. The program also leads to higher costs for processors and increased prices for consumers. IDFA and SUA continue to call for Congress to take steps to reform the program and its costly provisions.
Trade Topics, Labeling Issues Loom Large
The ongoing trade negotiations concerning the Pacific Rim and the European Union continued to draw significant interest among attendees. Panelists representing Canada and Australia reviewed the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreements and the opportunities they will provide to liberalize sugar trade.
Other topics covered include consumer and ingredient trends, proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel about added sugars, the labeling of foods containing ingredients from genetically modified (GMO) crops, the Food Safety Modernization Act, country-of-origin labeling and its potential impact on U.S. sugar exports, and the outlook for U.S. and international sweetener markets.
“The continued growth in global markets offers a variety of opportunities and challenges to all companies involved in the sweetener-using industries, and this colloquium provides the perfect forum for discussion and debate,” said Hough. “We’re pleased that this annual gathering continues to increase in attendance and participation from more companies and countries each year.”
IDFA would like to thank the 10 companies that sponsored events and activities during the International Sweetener Colloquium. They are Imperial Sugar Company; Domino Foods, Inc.; CSC Sugar LLC; Cargill; Sweetener Supply Corporation; Ingredion; JSG Commodities; Evergreen Sweeteners; Hood Contract Manufacturing; and Five Star Logistics & St. Charles Trucking.
The 2016 International Sweetener Colloquium will be held February 21-24 at the Turnberry Isle Miami resort in Aventura, Fla. For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies within a $125-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's nearly 200 dairy processing members run nearly 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese, ice cream and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.