CATCH THE BUZZ
A Nickel A Pound
Five cents a pound. The U.S. Government, sitting on a whole mountain range of surplus sugar, sold it all – almost 80 tons, 160 million pounds – Friday to two companies. Mann Lake Ltd, of Woodland, California, which also sell supplies and honey bee feed to beekeepers, bought 56 percent of the 79,750 tons that were offered by USDA for their sweetener business in California. Quality Liquid Feeds, of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, which makes feed supplements for beef and dairy cattle, bought the rest.
The inventory adjustment sale allowed the USDA to collect $8.2 million, compared with the estimated subsidy cost to USDA of $280 million for the 2012 crop, highest since $465 million in 2000. The average price of 5 cents a lb for the sugar was far below the 20.9 cents guaranteed to growers that would have been paid.
Growers forfeited 381,875 tons of sugar pledged as collateral rather than repay USDA price-support loans because of persistently low market prices, a loan program similar to what the honey industry participated in several years ago.
The USDA used, for the first time a program that sold surplus sugar to ethanol makers and it swapped sugar for credits that allow processors to bring sugar into the country for refining and re-export. What was left of the forfeited sugar after the ethanol sales and resale was sold to Mann Lake and Quality Feeds.
Nevertheless, the surplus at the end of the marketing year on Sept 30, 2014, could still be nearly 2 million tons compared to consumption of 12 million tons.
The BUZZ questions the wisdom a USDA subsidy program like this. Don't you?
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