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Domestic Corn Policies

Mexico

Throughout the 1980s, the state-owned enterprise known as the National Company of Popular Subsistence (La Compañía Nacional de Subsisten- cias Populares, or Conasupo) controlled Mexican corn trade and deter- mined the level of imports. Conasupo’s first concern was to guarantee high prices for domestic corn producers. At the same time, Conasupo sub- sidized millers to produce cheap tortillas for domestic consumption. Broad agricultural reforms were introduced in 1990, but direct price sup- ports for corn were maintained.144 After the 1995 peso crisis, Conasupo re- placed these direct price supports with a policy of “last resort buyer.” As a “last resort buyer,” Conasupo bought corn at average international prices based on the Chicago Commodity Exchange (with some regional variation). It bought white corn for human consumption and sold it to nixtamaleros (makers of corn dough used to produce tortillas) and corn 145

144. However, in the 1990 reforms, import controls and basic price supports were removed for copra, cottonseed, grain barley, rice, soy, sorghum, sunflower, and wheat.

145. As a result of the “last resort buyer” program, Conasupo purchases of corn declined from 45 percent of domestic production of grain in 1994 to 12 percent in 1998. See Yunez- Naude (2002a).

AGRICULTURE

337

Institute for International Economics | www.iie.com

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