Sugar Ethanol Program To Save Taxpayers Money

Published online: Aug 13, 2007 ASA
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NAPA, Calif.-The International Sweetener Symposium reports that U.S. corn ethanol producers, and America's march to energy independence, are likely to get a sugar boost, according to panelists at the 24th International Sweetener Symposium. The 2007 Farm Bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives includes a modest sugar ethanol provision designed to minimize taxpayer costs for sugar policy and prevent excessive imports from swamping the U.S. sugar market. Luther Markwart of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association told the Symposium audience the sugar ethanol program is aimed at keeping the U.S. sugar market in balance in the face of unlimited imports from Mexico under NAFTA rules. "USDA will make sugar available to ethanol producers only when imports from Mexico or other foreign suppliers exceed U.S. market needs," Markwart explained. Larry Schafer with the National Biodiesel Board told the Symposium audience that corn ethanol producers should like the proposed program. "Additional feedstocks will be welcomed, especially when, as in this case, sugar acts as an accelerator and speeds up the corn fermentation process," Schafer said. "In fact, it will likely allow ethanol producers who blend sugar with their corn feedstock to be able to produce more ethanol per day." Leaders in sugar ethanol production also addressed the Symposium. Plinio Nastari, a world-renowned expert on sucrose ethanol and president of Datagro Brazil, related how government cane ethanol programs have converted Brazil from a oil importer to energy independence. Alan Kennett, president of the Gay & Robinson sugar plantation on Kauai, Hawaii, described his company's construction of the first sugar ethanol plant in the Northern Hemisphere. "It's the right thing to do for Hawaii's economy and environment," he said. "And it's the right thing to do for Gay & Robinson," Kennett added. "We believe we can be commercially viable in cane ethanol production soon, and even more so when we achieve the breakthroughs that are near in conversion of cellulose to ethanol. Then, we'll not just be using the cane juice and molasses, but the whole cane stalk." For more information visit www.sugaralliance.org