FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9, 2017
CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-271-5734 (cell)
From the International Sweetener Symposium:
SAN DIEGO — The House Agriculture Committee is winding down its cross-country tour of Farm Bill listening sessions and will soon begin writing new legislation, Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) told sugar growers today at the International Sweetener Symposium.
“I’m pushing to get this done sooner rather than later…there’s no reason to wait,” he said.
Peterson said drafting should begin in September and that he’d like to complete a Farm Bill this year, before the Senate does.
He is hopeful that a new bill’s passage will be aided by the fact that the current Farm Bill has been more than $100 billion under budget, adding, “I think we should get some of that back to help write the new one.”
Sugar policy will be part of the 2018 Farm Bill, and Peterson said that he doesn’t foresee much opposition to sugar, which is designed to operate without taxpayer cost.
“One of the big advantages you have is that your program doesn’t cost money, and because of that, you’re going to fly under the radar,” he told the group.
In fact, sugar policy has cost money just once in the past 15 years – in 2013, after Mexico violated U.S. trade law and dumped subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market. This June, the U.S. and Mexican governments finalized a deal to stop Mexico’s predatory trade practices and bring them into compliance with U.S. law.
Peterson said it will now be important to strictly enforce that agreement to ensure it works.
“The Administration has assured me that they are going to be tough and not let [Mexico] manipulate the system,” he explained.
Peterson credited sugar farmers with helping deliver his recent reelection in a Republican-leaning district. Sugar has made such an impression on him, he said, that he’s planted three acres of sugarbeets at his home in Minnesota.
“My sugarbeets are looking pretty good,” he joked to the roomful of farmers. “So you better watch out.”