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In the United States, import tariffs have long supported the domestic sugar industry, with quotas typically holding U.S. prices steadily above those in the world market.
There are two main types of sugar grown in the world: cane and beet. Both produce the identical refined sugar product. Sugar cane is a bamboo-like grass grown in semi-topical regions. It accounts for about 70% of world production. Beet sugar comes from the sugar beet plant, which grows in temperate climates and accounts for the balance of world production. Intemperate weather, disease, insects, soil quality and cultivation affect both cane and beet production, as do trade agreements and price support programs.
India, Brazil, China, Thailand, Cuba and Mexico are among the leading sugar cane producers. European Union nations, the Russian Federation and Ukraine produce the majority of all sugar beets. The European Union, Brazil, Thailand, Australia, Cuba and Ukraine are leading sugar exporters.
Both cane and beet sugar are grown in regions of the U.S.; sugar beet production in the U.S. accounts for about 9% of the world total and cane production about 3% of the world supply. U.S. sugar cane is grown in Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Texas and Puerto Rico. Beet sugar is grown in 14 states, with Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota and California leading production.