Sugar Producer

April 2021

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20 Sugar Producer APRIL 2021 Progress Report Where the sugar industry stands with a new administration and Congress FROM THE ASGA Luther Markwart | EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT President Biden's first 100 days in office come to a close at the end of April. This caps a frantic whole- of-government effort to jump-start a new administration. There are campaign promises to chase, legislative priorities to launch, 4,000 political appointments to be made, and foreign relationships to re-establish. While measurable progress is being made in the fight against COVID, the pandemic has drained significant resources and time from other priorities. A new Congress is also a very busy place. New members must be sworn in, committee assignments are made, and Members of Congress start introducing legislative priorities. A good deal of attention remains focused on the events of Jan. 6 and security of the Capitol. Of course, the 2022 election preparation is well underway as both parties fight to gain the majority in the next Congress. With such a new landscape in Washington, we must prioritize introducing our industry to new members of Congress and Biden administration officials. We must build on those introductions and establish strong relationships with these individuals. One component of these efforts is our annual grower fly-in. The last week of February and the first week of March, grower-leaders held a virtual fly-in with roughly 300 congressional offices. Our message to Congress mirrored past years, with a focus around the importance of the U.S. sugar program. But the pandemic painted our message in a new light. When you have smart sugar and trade policy, the needs of consumers are always met, even during a pandemic. Growers shared our 2020 success story of meeting consumer and industrial needs despite the pandemic. Congress is very interested in building better supply chain resiliency. Given sugar's existing supply chains and the success our industry enjoys, our message was very well received. A special thanks to grower-leaders and regional and Washington staff. It is a massive undertaking, and everyone simply did a tremendous job. A very special thank you to ASGA's Zach Clark, who oversaw and choreographed this project. It is our sincere hope and expectation that next year we will make these visits in person as we get closer to renewing the Farm Bill in 2023. Other priorities for our industry are working with the new administration to manage the sugar program and building better crop insurance products. Every month we follow USDA's supply and demand numbers to ensure a balanced market. There are new and very talented personnel at USDA who work on these issues, and we work to make sure they have the best data available to make good decisions. We are also continuing our work with USDA to make crop insurance better. We are very excited by recent progress toward better beet policies. It's a long and ongoing process, but again, we work with talented and dedicated individuals at USDA on your behalf. Climate change and the policy being developed to combat it are increasingly keeping ASGA busy. As our annual meeting highlighted, we can expect wetter springs, drier summers, and warmer winters. This will create challenging conditions for our industry. Our growers embrace best practices and continuous improvement to promote environmental health and reduce costs. Producing more with less remains the goal. We have a great story to tell about major environmental advances over the last decade. We continue to collect more data to tell an even better story. ASGA's Scott Herndon has been immersed on this issue for almost a year and has been a key leader on various aspects of these issues for all of agriculture. You will hear a lot more on this issue in the months ahead. Lastly, even with a new power dynamic in Washington, focus on the next election never ceases. Razor- thin margins in both the House and Senate create political and governing challenges. Early opportunities for bipartisan progress have mostly been dashed, though certainly not extinguished. Plenty of opportunities remain to find bipartisan solutions to get the country back on its feet after the pandemic. If leadership can divert attention away from elections and corral wings of their respective parties, a lot can be achieved for the American people. It's a huge lift, but we do it in agriculture every day. We are closely monitoring these factors and, as always, work in a bipartisan fashion to promote our industry and policies. n Plenty of opportunities remain to find bipartisan solutions to get the country back on its feet after the pandemic.

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