The U.S. House Agriculture Committee is considering a measure that would allow U.S. growers to sell cane and beet sugar for making ethanol. It’s part of an 111-page proposal updating U.S. agriculture subsidies.
This Reuters story says the proposal was written by Ag Committee chair Cong. Collin Peterson of Minnesota:
Support rates for sugar would rise under the proposal, to 18.5 cents per lb of raw cane sugar and 23.5 cents per lb of beet sugar. They now are 18 cents per lb for cane and 22.9 cents a lb for beet sugar.
By law, the government must run the sugar program at no net cost. The program relies on domestic marketing allotments, when needed, to balance the supply of domestic and imported sugar with U.S. consumption. Tariff-rate quotas control imports.
Under the Agriculture Committee text, the Agriculture Department would set marketing allotments “for domestic human consumption” of sugar for the 2008-12 crop years. Sugar sold “for uses other than domestic human consumption” would be excluded from the limits.
One part of the proposal says if the federal Ag Department awards surplus sugar as a reward to growers who agree to reduce production of sugarcane and beets that are already planted, the sugar from those fields can only be used as a bioenergy feedstock.
Another related measure lets the USDA buy raw, refined, or in-process sugar from growers and sell it to bioenergy producers.
The proposals are part of the new farm bill.