Under Secretary Believes USDA Can Run Sugar Program Without Expense

There was some pressure on Congress to reform the U.S. sugar program in the new farm bill. A coalition was pointing to millions of dollars spent by USDA to prop up sugar prices for sugar producers. USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse says he doesn't expect USDA to have to spend any money on the sugar program in fiscal year 2014. Scuse believes the department will be able to comply with the mandate of Congress to run the program without taxpayer expense if possible. Scuse expects a better equilibrium in the North American market due to improved information gathering and certain actions by Mexico. He also notes the 2013 sugar crop in the U.S. and Mexico was huge. In order to comply with the sugar program under the 2008 Farm Bill - Scuse says USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation had to take 10 separate actions on sugar. Those actions included exchanges of rights to import sugar, accepting sugar under growers' rights to forfeit sugar to the government when prices fell below support prices and selling the forfeited sugar to biofuels plants. According to Scuse - the total cost was 280-million dollars. But due to the sales of sugar to biofuels plants - the final cost was down to 260-million dollars.

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