Is Corn Group’s Support For CAFTA Softening?

New study says bad trade agreement for sugar will hurt corn sweetner and ethanol prices, too. Lon Tonneson

Published on: Feb 4, 2004

The North Dakota Corn Growers recently broke with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and sided with sugar producers in opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Now the NCGA is saying it will study the trade agreement closely before officially endorsing it

A new study asserts that prices for corn sweetner and ethanol would fall under CAFTA, making U.S.-produced products uncompetitive. The study, called the "Buzzanell Study on the Effect of U.S. Sugar and Ethanol Tariff Elimination on the U.S. Sugar, Corn Sweetener and Ethanol Industries" also suggests U.S. corn growers should alter their policy calling for no exclusions in negotiations for free trade agreements.

"There's been a lot of misrepresentation about how CAFTA treats ethanol," says NCGA President Dee Vaughan, a Dumas, Texas, grower. "CAFTA does not change the ability for ethanol to come in at all. The study just doesn't get it right. "

NCGA strongly supports free and fair trade, Vaughan says, because the vast majority of the world's consumers don't live in America.

"Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers are outside of our borders. One of our goals is to create new markets worldwide. We see free trade agreements as a way of doing that, he says.

While NCGA supports CAFTA, the association's Corn Board will conduct an in-depth review of the final agreement before endorsing it, Vaughan says.