Language put in a letter to be sent to Trade Ambassador Allen Johnson leaves the Council free to pursue exportation of potatoes and potato products to the five CAFTA nations but holds the door open for a possible backlash in sugar trade.
The NPC met January 6-10 in Cancun, Mexico, and wrote the letter with the thought in mind that if trade into the CAFTA nations includes things that may come back to have a dramatic effect on the potato industry there will be a need for careful mitigation.
Many potato growers are also sugarbeet growers. Because these growers have no other alternative crops to grow and because a potential two million metric tons of sugar a year could come from the five CAFTA nations, it could literally put the sugarbeet industry out of business and cause over-production in the potato industry.
A Louisiana study found that if the potential of two million metric tons of sugar were allowed to enter the United States, the price of sugar would fall to about 12-14 cents a pound. Sugarbeet growers cannot produce sugar for that price. A break-even price is about 17-18 cents a pound.
John Keeling, executive director, said the NPC reaffirmed its commitment to open new markets and acknowledged the zero tariff on potato and potato products and other things requested but also acknowledged the need to be careful in mitigating other changes in tariffs or import quotas which could result in acreage changes that could be detrimental to potato growers.