The United States sweetener industry will not receive any moral or outright support on trade issues from U.S. potato growers.
Because many growers in the 14 major potato-producing states grow both potatoes and sugarbeets, you would think there would be some sort of alignment so that any loss of beet acreage doesn't translate into more potato acres.
However, when asked about the situation, John Keeling, executive director of the National Potato Council based in Washington, DC, said his growers do not want to be aligned with the sugar industry for fear any trade alignment would hurt potato export trade.
Keeling said the group understands the situation but its hands are tied because of the connection that could be made with importing countries. However he said the NPC would look for other ways to help the potato industry, cooperating wherever it can so "we are all on the same page."
"Trade is one area where we and others in the fruit and vegetable industry have problems with sugar," he said. "Defending their programs costs us the initiative in many trade agreements."