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World Sugar Growers Conference Concludes

By T. McDonald

Fargo, ND – The 8th World Sugar Growers Conference put an end to its five day's of events in the Fargo-Moorhead region Friday. Since Monday the international representatives have been touring the Red River Valley, looking at sugar beet farms, sugar processing facilities, and discussing what needs to be done to help stabilize international trade.

Mike Blacker is the U-K Representative to the conference. He says addressing the issues related to sugar is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Blacker says the 8th annual conference is helping get some of the puzzle pieces in place.
I think all of us realize that sugar is a very complex issue. And how-ever we try to adjust it - whether it's in NAFTA or in Europe, or anywhere else in the world - it's not going to be an easy thing to do. There's going to be many winners and losers in this game. And I think many of us in Europe are beginning to understand that. We are, indeed, in this room all sugar farmers together -- where all of us rely on sugar for our income and our livings. And we, indeed, if you look at it from a global position, supply one world market. So it's very, very difficult to try and reorganize the complexities of what we've already got.

Jorn Dalby is President of the Danish Beet Growers Association. He says the conference has allowed the representatives to address some big issues and he says as the week progressed a lot of similarities began to emerge, making the dialogue more relevant
I think that's quite right, because we probably have the same problems in U.S.A. and in Europe. We' are facing the same problems in sugar. I think if we stick together we will get far.

Congressman Earl Pomeroy was among those speaking with the group. He says there are many levels with-in sugar that need to be addressed. He says the conference plays a vital role in building global relationships, and bringing to light matters at home that need addressing
We have to work to come up with a coherent U-S strategy we don't have it now. Got the U-S Trade Representative, we tell him don't even put sugar on the table at these bi-lateral talks - we need to have global resolution.' Well, unfortunately they rejected that direction. They put sugar on the table in the CAFTA talks, and they granted new access to the subsidized imported sugar in Central America - and it was the wrong thing to do. So we do have some work to do in getting our act together with the U-S Policy. I think the U-S policy needs to be very clear. Global trade talks only. Not under discussion in bi-lateral talks.
On the other hand I think there is also a lot of spade work to be done internationally as we come to understand the view points of other nations. And that's why I'm so please we are hosting this international meeting right here. This is an organization that has 32 countries represented and represents 750-thousand farmers across the world - 65% of sugar production. How wonderful it is to have them here so they can see our stake. Maybe they'll come away with a better understanding that the U-S shouldn't be asked to completely give up its industry just for interests of other places in the world. They'll understand why we fight so hard to preserve the economic opportunity for our farmers and our manufacturing plants we have here.

Pomeroy says through farmer-to-farmer talks like the growers conference there's a chance to better understand each other and work toward common goals.