NPC Encourages Quick Passage Of CAFTA

Published online: Feb 04, 2005 NPC
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Quick passage of the Central America and Dominican Republic trade agreements was urged by the National Potato Council this week.

The NPC sent letters to House and Senate leadership encouraging their support for quick action on the agreeements.

NPC highlighted the opportunities for U.S. agriculture that would occur as a result of passage of the agreement, including the direct effect of reduced tariffs and other restrictions along with economic growth opportunities for the potato industry.

In addition, the NPC expressed the opportunity for the resolution of non-tariff issues, such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures would be lost if the CAFTA-DR was not passed.

The administration is committed to a vote on CAFTA-DR and a strategy session is scheduled at the White House next week. Various federal agencies are also supporting the passage of CAFTA-DR and voicing their support to legislators.

Potato state legislators are opposed to the trade agreements because it would send another deluge of sugar into the United States--over and above the countries' already allotted imports.

Many potato growers are also sugarbeet growers. If the domestic sugarbeet industry takes another hit with increased sugar imports, it could seriously jeopardize the welfare of the sugabeet industry.

If more sugarbeet acreage is lost--and a cutback of 16 percent in acres was announced for the U. S. 2005 crop--many growers of both sugarbeets and potatoes would probably grow potatoes.

That in turn could have a boomerang effect on the potato industry by inviting more acres of potatoes which would in turn affect potato markets. 

Dan Moss of Declo, ID, the newly elected president of the NPC, grows both crops, over 2,500 acres of potatoes and over 1,000 acres of sugarbeets. He, as well as other joint beet-potato growers, have been opposed to CAFTA for the single reason sugar is included.