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Dairy Facts 2016

Managed Trade Agreements Create Market Challenges, USDA Under Secretary Says

Feb 24, 2016
Michael Scuse, U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services

Contact: Marti Hogan
(202) 220-3535

(February 24, 2016—Aventura, Fla.) Michael Scuse, U.S. Department of Agriculture under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, opened the International Sweetener Colloquium this week at the Turnberry Isle Resort in Aventura, Fla., marking his fifth consecutive appearance as the event’s keynote speaker. Acknowledging that the current administration is heading into its final months, Scuse said President Obama believes the “really important things happen in the fourth quarter,” referring to football’s final fifteen minutes.

Scuse focused considerable attention on the current managed trade agreements with Mexico, noting that after one year it is clear that "nothing is ever as simple as it seems." He acknowledged that the agreements have created market imbalances, and although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause, this has led to challenges at USDA and within the sugar sector, including inadequate raw sugar supplies in the U.S. cane refining sector.

“USDA needs to better understand the quantity and quality of sugar imported from Mexico,” said Scuse, “and to accomplish this, we need the best information possible—from everyone.”

Scuse also used his keynote address as an opportunity to thank Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO, for her service and leadership, not just within the dairy industry but for the many industries that she has worked and collaborated with over the years. Tipton announced in January that she plans to retire this year after 35 years of service in the dairy industry.

Hosted by IDFA and the Sweetener Users Association (SUA), the colloquium was comprised of panels and presentations on the sweetener industry's latest challenges and opportunities. Over the course of the three-day program, David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report entertained the crowd with his observations and predictions for the 2016 elections, and dozens of presenters shared important information and advice on a variety of topics, including the labeling of foods with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients, how to build consumer confidence and the state of world sugar markets.

The event drew nearly 500 industry professionals from the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands and Turkey, surpassing the level of attendance ever for this event.

“We are so impressed by the level of conversation at this year’s event,” said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, who also serves as SUA treasurer, a position he has held for the past seven years. “The sheer volume of issues and potential changes in the political and regulatory environment can seem overwhelming, but this event continues to provide an important forum for getting through them all.”

Conference sponsors for the International Sweetener Colloquium include ASR; Imperial Sugar Company; Domino Foods, Inc.; CSC Sugar; Cargill; Ingredion; Evergreen Sweeteners; Sweetener Supply Corporation; and JSG Commodities.

The 2017 International Sweetener Colloquium will be held February 26 - March 1 at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, Calif.

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

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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. IDFA can be found online at

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