Big Sugar could get a big government bailout
Trigger warning, healthy eaters. The USDA is considering a big sugar bailout. Here’s how that would work: The agency would buy 400,000 tons of sugar from surprisingly productive sugar companies in order to give those sugar companies enough cash to pay back the the $862 million they borrowed from the USDA last October. And then you would riot in the streets because what the hell is going on, USDA?!
The Wall Street Journal reports on the part before the rioting:
The USDA makes loans to sugar processors annually as part of a program that is rooted in the 1934 Sugar Act. The loans are secured with some 4.1 billion pounds, or 2.05 million tons, of sugar that companies expect to produce from the current harvest. That comes to almost a quarter of total U.S. output that the USDA forecasts for this year.
If domestic sugar prices bounce back before a final decision [on the bailout] is made, the USDA would back away from plans to intervene in the market, [said USDA economist Barbara Fecso]. A final decision could come as early as April 1. …
The loan program was designed to operate at no cost to taxpayers. A June 2000 study by the Government Accountability Office, then called the General Accounting Office, estimated the program’s cost to the U.S. economy at $700 million in 1996 and $900 million in 1998.
The bailout would help bolster the price of sugar, therefore driving up the cost of sweetened goods. But even if you hate sugar and all the terrible things it does to our bodies, you’re still paying for it.
Is that enough, though, to ally carrot and cupcake lovers in what New York Magazine wishes were a militant social movement?
Big Sugar has spent decades paying its way into politicians’ hearts, demanding price controls and tariffs that boost profits and artificially inflate sugar prices, and using its political clout to establish a permanent life-support mechanism for an industry whose major product is causing many Americans to die.
Why wait? Let’s Occupy Sugar, and Occupy it now.
Speaking of unholy alliances, New York points to a 2012 report by the Heritage Foundation. Free-market-loving Heritage hates Big Sugar. The foundation points to big political spending by sugar companies, just the kind of sweet stumping that killed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban.
Not feeling riled yet? Maybe have an angry-making Coke first.
Susie Cagle writes and draws news for Grist. She also writes and draws tweets for
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