Mixed views on proposed status quo in sugar

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — A proposal to leave the current sugar program in place through 2012 drew a mixture of disappointment and relief from the Independent Bakers Association.

While hopes for significant changes had been expressed in recent months, Dan Nagle, I.B.A. chairman, expressed some relief that certain changes under consideration would not be proposed.

"While we hoped for reform in the sugar program, regime change on Capitol Hill put the chairmanship of the House Committee on Agriculture in the hands of the congressman representing the most sugar beet production in the country," Mr. Nagle said. "When just last week there was talk of a 3c increase in the loan rate for sugar, status quo is acceptable."

The principal change in the proposal, as posted on the House Agriculture Committee Internet web site, strikes out "2007" at two key points and replacing the year with "2012," extending the program through the latter date.

Detailing the proposal, the committee summary states of the program:

"Extends the non-recourse loan program for sugar. Loan rates remain at 18c per lb for raw cane sugar and 22.9c per lb for refined beet sugar. The other provisions of the current loan program would remain in effect, including the requirement that the secretary operate the program at no cost to the federal government, to the extent practicable, by avoiding forfeitures of sugar."

Of the flexible marketing allotments for sugar, the summary states:

"Extends the authority for marketing allotments. U.S.D.A. would continue to be required to establish marketing allotments for sugar each year at a level that the secretary estimates will result in no forfeitures of sugar to the Commodity Credit Corp.

"The secretary will continue to be required to suspend the marketing allotments if the secretary estimates that sugar imports will exceed 1.532 million short tons, and that such imports would lead to a reduction in the overall allotment quantity."

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