Sugarbeet Reduction Would Whack Potatoes

Published online: Jun 04, 2004
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University of Idaho economists have recently completed a study for the Snake River Sugar Company, estimating economic impact of the sugarbeet industry in Idaho.

Part of the study estimated what the impact would be if no sugarbeets were planted in Idaho. The economists concluded that if sugarbeets were not grown it would result in an additional 8.8 million cwt of potatoes, based on current crop allocations.

Since Idaho controls 52 percent of the Pacific Northwest potato market and is the dominant producer, it is estimated the impact would result in a 17 percent decline in market price.

The sugarbeet industry as well as the potato industry are very concerned because sugar is included in the Central American Free Trade Agreement. If CAFTA is passed (it is expected to come up for a yes or no vote in Congress after the elections) it would result in an estimated 2 million tons of increased sugar imports into the United States.

Sugarbeet industry officials know such a deluge of additional sugar--above the already allocated quota amounts from 22 countries--would seriously weaken the sugarbeet industry in the United States and have a similar impact on the country's potato industry.