U.S. government is buying up $300-million sugar glut

Published online: Oct 21, 2013
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Trick-or-treaters in waiting take note: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is buying up a stockpile of sugar, spending about $1 per American resident on a sweet bounty that it can barely give away.

That's because the government has been promoting the planting of more sugar cane and sugar beet crops than the over-sugared country can bear. Meanwhile, the North American Free Trade Agreement has opened an import spigot that has seen Mexican sugar flowing unencumbered into the U.S.

To reduce the financial burden on the agricultural companies that planted all those unsellable, diabetes-inducing crops, the USDA is going on a sugar-buying binge. Bloomberg reports:

Since June, the sugar glut led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy sugar to prop up prices, sell it at a loss to biofuels producers and take steps to reduce imports. The efforts have barely dented the surplus.

"The government is still supporting growers to produce more sugar than we actually consume," Arthur Liming, a Chicago-based futures specialist at Citigroup Inc., said in a telephone interview.

The total cost to the government of subsidizing the sugar industry for this year's crops may be between $200 million and $300 million, according to Tom Earley, an economist with Agralytica, a food and agriculture consulting firm based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Imagine, just for a second, if it was a kale glut that we had to deal with-instead of life-shortening sugar. Leafy greens party in D.C., y'all!

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

Source: grist.org