About 360 beet growers, spouses and affiliated industry traveled to southern California for the 2013 annual meeting of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. Along with a lot of one-on-one conversation, they also listened to speakers addressing several timely topics of importance to the nation’s sugar industry.
ASGA’s 2014 annual meeting is scheduled to take place February 9-11 in Tampa, Fla.
Wiesemeyer envisioned a new farm bill probably being a reality by the August congressional recess. “Stand your guard,” he cautioned beet growers.
Sweetener consumption in Mexico is projected at about 6.0 million metric tons in 2012/13 — equal to the nation’s (record) projected production of sugar this year. The country’s internal market for sweeteners is strong, having grown by more than 50% over the past two decades. Since the implementation of NAFTA, Mexico has exported more than 4.1 million (metric) tons of sugar to the U.S., while likewise importing about 3.9 million tons of high-fructose corn syrup from the U.S. Jasso advocated improved information flow on both nations’ sweetener markets, U.S.-Mexico harmonization of trade policies to the greatest extent possible, and a joint position on sugar when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Ruffalo recapped the U.S. market during the past several years, noting that current price levels strongly reflect the record U.S. beet and cane production — and Mexico’s projected record sugarcane output. Industrial buyers are in the “driver’s seat” right now, he pointed out, with only 20% of 2014 sugar needs having been contracted as of early 2013. That compares with about 75% at the same time a year ago.
Speaking on the subject of biotech and food labeling, “GMA and its member companies strongly support the continued use of food ingredients made from [biotech products],” Bailey stated. GMA and many of its member companies worked extensively to help defeat the recent California Proposition 37 labeling initiative. But “the public debate is far from over” on this subject, she stressed.
General Mills, the world’s sixth largest food company, has enlisted many of its suppliers in this collaborative stakeholder effort.
Calling the sugar lobby an excellent example of “unity on substance and strategy,” Harrison encouraged ASGA members to “make your House and Senate members your champions,” to continue educating other members of Congress, and to remain supportive of their political action committees. “You have great representation in Washington, and you are excellent ‘on the ground’ there,” he emphasized.
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Others recognized via ASGA board resolutions included Tom Schwartz, executive vice president of the Beet Sugar Development Foundation; Idaho sugarbeet producer Duane Grant; Wyoming producer John Snyder; ASGA’s executive vice president, Luther Markwart; James Johnson, president of the United States Beet Sugar Association; the Monsanto Roundup Ready sugarbeet technology team; the USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services team; USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; and members of the Baker Hostetler legal team.
New members of the ASGA Board of Directors include Nick Ludowese (Southern Minnesota), Clark Gerstacker (Michigan) and a yet-to-be named member from Idaho.
“As we look to the year ahead, we must maneuver in a political environment that is both turbulent and unpredictable,” Erickson noted in his closing remarks to the 2013 annual meeting’s audience. “Such an environment requires us to play both offense and defense at the same time. Our industry is unified, coordinated, with strategic plans in place — and we are all properly motivated to carry out our respective tasks.”