The American Sugar Alliance, which represents beet and cane growers, and the Sweetener Users Association, which represents candy companies and other industrial users of sugar, had remarkably different reactions to the Agriculture Department’s announcement Wednesday that it had raised the tariff rate import quotas on raw and refined sugar to address the shortage of sugar caused by a poor beet harvest in the Midwest and a poor cane harvest in Louisiana due to severe weather problems.

Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, said, “In designing U.S. sugar policy, Congress wisely provided the department with an assortment of tools, including an opportunity to increase supplies after conducting a mid-year review of supply and needs. We are somewhat surprised USDA would increase imports by this amount, but we are optimistic that USDA has a strong sense of actual import outcomes and that the U.S. market will be adequately supplied but not oversupplied.”

The Sweetener Users Association said, “We commend USDA for its actions and also appreciate that it is going to continue to watch the market, because we think further TRQ increases are likely to be needed.”

Separately, the American Sugar Alliance noted in its online newsletter that the sugarbeet harvest in Southern California’s Imperial Valley is starting amid the coronavirus crisis.

“Southern California sugar growers are unique in that their harvest starts on April 1 and stretches through the summer,” the Sugar Alliance said.

“They are an essential part of the food supply chain for a significant portion of the Southwest/Pacific markets, as the Imperial Valley growers supply the sugar needs of nearly 7.5 million people who call California home. For perspective, that’s enough sugar to feed the four largest cities in California — Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco — and then some.”

“Rural America is not exempt from the anxiety we all feel about the threat that coronavirus poses,̦” sugarbeet grower Suzanne Rutherford said. “However, one thing I am not worried about is America’s food production. I see first-hand every day that agriculture is still moving forward.”