WASHINGTON — A group of 17 U.S. senators, led by senators Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, both of whom for years have led efforts to reform the U.S. sugar program, in a July 29 letter to U.S. Department of Commerce secretary Penny Pritzker urged the D.O.C. not to impose import restrictions on Mexican sugar as requested in a petition from U.S. sugar growers and processors.

“We are concerned by reports that the Department of Commerce may resolve the recently filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases on imported sugar from Mexico by imposing import quotas on Mexican sugar via a suspension agreement with the Mexican sugar industry and Government of Mexico,” the letter said. “Such a suspension agreement will violate our nation’s commitment to free and open trade with Mexico, threaten the viability of American food manufacturers and raise food prices for American families.

“Any managed trade agreement between the United States and Mexico, whether in the form of a suspension agreement or other mechanism, will raise sugar prices in the United States. This will cost American jobs, hurt consumers and encourage retaliatory trade actions to the detriment of both the United States and Mexico. We urge you to carefully consider your agency’s obligations under current law and NAFTA and reject calls to weaken the U.S.-Mexican trade relationship.”

The senators’ letter follows one from the Coalition for Sugar Reform to Secretary Pritzker, the secretary of agriculture and the U.S. trade representative on July 15 also voicing opposition to a managed sugar trade agreement between the United States and Mexico as a way to resolve the case.

A group of U.S. sugar beet and cane growers and processors filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions on March 28 claiming Mexico was dumping subsidized sugar into the U.S. market at a cost of $1 billon to U.S. sugar producers. The case is under review by the D.O.C. and a preliminary decision is due by Aug. 25.