Sugar Sour on New Farm Bill Proposal

Bush Administration would continue no-cost policy, but would restrict U.S. sales – not imports.

The Bush Administration is proposing to continue the sugar program in the 2007 Farm Bill, but would change how it handles the marketing allotment.

Rather than restricting imports from foreign countries when sugar supply exceeds demand, the Bush Administration says it wants to restrict domestic sales.

"We are very much opposed to that. It would mean a slow and painful death for the domestic sugar industry," says Phillip Hayes, American Sugar Alliance spokesman.

While the proposal is a blow to the sugar industry, the Bush administration's 2007 Farm Bill proposal could have been worse.

At least the Bush administration didn't propose dumping the current program for a proposal advanced by candy and soda makers. They wanted the government to scrap the current proposal, lift all import and production restrictions and give U.S. growers a subsidy for their loss of income.

"We are pleased the administration is willing to continue a program that hasn't cost taxpayers anything," Hayes says.

But sugarbeet growers and others in the industry are ready to lobby Congress. They want legislators to reject the Bush Administration's allotment management proposal and restrict imports to manage supply.

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