Sugar deadline extended 24 hours as Perdue talks Canadian dairy |

Sugar deadline extended 24 hours as Perdue talks Canadian dairy

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday extended the deadline for resolution of the U.S.-Mexican sugar conflict by 24 hours in hopes of finalizing a deal.

Reuters reported that a deal has been struck, but that the sugar industry is divided.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who was in Canada, told reporters by telephone that he hopes that the American Sugar Alliance, which represents U.S. cane and beet growers, “comes around and understands” that what has been proposed is in the interest of the U.S. and others.

Applying the punitive tariffs that the U.S. could impose in retaliation for Mexico subsidizing sugar and dumping it in the U.S. would complicate other markets, Perdue said.

Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, said in an email, “The U.S. negotiating team, led by Commerce Secretary Ross, should be commended for their hard work to bring Mexico’s subsidized sugar industry into compliance with U.S. trade laws. We are hopeful that an agreement can be struck to finally end the injury caused by Mexico’s dumping and unfair trade practices. There are several important issues that remain unresolved, and we are committed to working with the Department of Commerce over the next 24 hours in hopes of finalizing modified suspension agreements.”

Perdue said he told Canadian officials that they should end their Class 7 milk, which he said has enabled Canadian producers to overproduce milk solids and create blends that have lowered prices on world markets.

Before Canada established Class 7 milk, U.S. producers were exporting ultra-high-filtered milk to Canada, Perdue noted. The secretary said he told the Canadian officials the U.S. does not propose to try to manage or get involved in Canada’s domestic supply of dairy products, but that he believes Class 7 is “unfair” and undercutting an industry that grew up in the U.S.

But Perdue also said the purpose of his trip today was not to enter into “deep” negotiations with Canadian officials. He also said he discussed the issue of Canadian classification of U.S. wheat and considers it an easily resolvable problem.