April 14, 2005

CRAPO VOICES STRONG CONCERNS WITH CAFTA

Comments come during Finance Committee hearing today

Washington, DC â?? During a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee today on the United States â?? Central America - Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), Idaho Senator Mike Crapo said U.S. sugar producers made a compelling case that they will be harmed by CAFTA. Crapo said he takes that threat seriously and that it adds to his concerns over the CAFTA proposal. â??Our trade agreements have to achieve mutually beneficial trade,â?? Crapo said. â??Through current law, CAFTA countries have enjoyed duty-free access to the U.S. market for most of their agriculture products. The same is not true for U.S. farmers and ranchers who want to sell to Central America. While I commend our trade negotiators for the effort put forward to remove restrictive trade barriers, through this agreement our negotiators may have gained much needed market access for some commodities while harming another â?? sugar.â?? Crapo objects to provisions in the agreement that would allow increased sugar imports. Critics warn those imports could destroy the market for U.S. producers and interfere with the sugar program provided in the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill presently requires U.S. producers to keep close to one million tons of sugar in storage, but producers argue the one million tons presently stored may be dumped onto the world market if CAFTA is approved. Some studies say that would collapse sugar prices by more than 40 percent and put thousands of farmers out of business. Sugar production is one of Idahoâ??s leading industries. â??While there are questions on the level of impact that CAFTA will inflict on the sugar industry, there is no question that there will be an effect,â?? Crapo added. â??Our farm families and communities deserve better than that. So little has been explained about how the alternative forms of compensation provided for in the agreement to protect the domestic sugar program would actually work. Nor would there be any guarantee to the sugar industry that this provision would be utilized. The sugar situation points out what makes well-intentioned trade agreements fail.â?? To directly link to this news release, please use the following address: http://crapo.senate.gov/media/newsreleases/release_full.cfm?id=236339 FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality is available by calling 1-800-545-1267. Press 327 at any time during or after the greeting and instructions. You can also access the actuality through the Internet by clicking here.