Iowa Public Television


U.S. Sugar Harvest Shrinks

posted on January 20, 2006

Since the most contentious immigration issues focus on the border with Mexico, any reforms could be especially hard on America's southern states. Florida, for example, produces 40 percent of the US fresh tomato market, and provides virtually all of the US winter production of tomatoes -- All of which are picked by hand. The Sunshine State also is America's top producer of sugar. This year, however, Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on much of the crop and some processors now are calling for increased foreign sugar imports.

U.S. Sugar Harvest Shrinks

The United States Sugar Industry is struggling. In December, USDA raised allowable-sugar imports under the fiscal 2006 tariff-rate quota. Now, the industry is asking the Department of Agriculture to allow more sugar into the nation. This move comes despite the fact that sugar producers long have worried about foreign competition, especially under free-trade agreements. They fear an influx of foreign sugar eventually will cost them their livelihoods.

President George Bush: "This agreement is good for America."

Many were opposed to the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, but the Senate passed it last summer.

The change of heart in producers was brought on by weather. Earlier this month, frost struck the sugar crop which already was damaged by Hurricane Wilma in October. Sugar companies in Florida --the top cane-growing state in the U.S. --predict the harvest to be significantly smaller than in a normal year when it wraps up in April. Recently, USDA trimmed its estimate of the state's 2005-06 sugar production to 1.455 million tons from a previous forecast. The 2004-05 output was 1.693 million tons.


Tags: agriculture crops harvest industry markets news sugar USDA weather