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Indiana Corn Farmers Hope Sugar Deal Keeps Syrup Trade Sweet

This grain elevator in the Benton County town of Free collects corn for use in high-fructose corn syrup.

Indiana corn growers hope a deal on sugar trade between the U.S. and Mexico will protect their stake in the high-fructose corn syrup industry.

Mexico could slap new tariffs on imports of the syrup if the deal isn’t finalized, and the effects of that tariff could trickle down to farmers.

About a third of all high-fructose corn syrup produced in the U.S. goes to Mexico, and it includes a lot of Hoosier corn. As much as 5-10 percent of Indiana’s corn crop goes to factories that produce the syrup, such as Tate & Lyle in Lafayette.

Indiana Farm Bureau lobbyist Bob White says a Mexican tax on corn syrup imports would be bad for the whole supply chain in Indiana and nationwide.

“If you would take that market away, you’re looking at a pretty good-sized decline in corn prices,” he says.

Mexico and the U.S. have tentatively settled their recent sugar dispute by increasing prices but reducing imports of Mexican raw sugar. They’re expected to sign the deal by June 30.

But the issue isn’t entirely resolved. Mexican sugar growers still want an investigation into whether U.S. corn syrup exports are hurting their industry – akin to U.S. complaints about Chinese steel dumping.

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