FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 5, 2015
CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-271-5734 (cell)
From the International Sweetener Symposium:
SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M.—Sugar is not grown in New Mexico, but a key member of the state’s congressional delegation reiterated his support of no-cost U.S. sugar policy yesterday at the 32nd International Sugar Symposium.
“Farming is a way of life in New Mexico. It’s who we are culturally,” Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D) told the group, adding that New Mexican farmers and sugar farmers share a pride in their products and heritages and that all of agriculture should “come together as a family.”
Luján added, “In New Mexico we have specialty crops such as chile and pecans, and we understand the importance of looking after crops that play a significant role in the culture of a community.”
Luján, who grew up on a five-acre farm in the state, said he is eager to “work together,” recognizing the contributions the sugar industry makes “to the country, including hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the economy.”
The Congressman has voted against legislation to weaken sugar policy and pledged to fight for sugar farmers in the future. He added that sugar policy and the overall Farm Bill have strong bipartisan support and that agriculture’s ability to reach across party lines should serve as a model for other issues.
However, steps to politicize agricultural policy by splitting up the farm and nutrition policies in the Farm Bill could have disastrous consequences, he warned.
“For several decades we always saw members of Congress from both urban and rural areas come together to get Farms Bills done. Sadly over the past couple of years, what we saw was a little bit of a meltdown with this process…and a more partisan fight,” Luján explained of attempts to break up the bill and gut both farm and nutrition policies.
Unity within agriculture and maintaining a strong coalition between farm country and their urban consumers will be paramount in the future, he said.
“We must find a way for rural parts of America to come together with urban parts of America to do what is right for this whole country,” Luján concluded.
For more information, visit www.sugaralliance.org