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Senate amendment to limit sugar loans withdrawn

By Jerry Hagstrom

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., on July 17 presented an amendment to the Senate Appropriations Committee to alter the federal sugar program, but then withdrew it.

Shaheen did not release a copy of the amendment, but in the past, she and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, presented an amendment that would stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture from granting nonrecourse loans to any processor whose gross revenue exceeded $300 million the previous year.

Shaheen and Kirk also have introduced legislation to lower the sugar support price.

A wide range of farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the Farm Credit Council, wrote to the appropriators urging them to make no changes to the program.

A spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, which represents the cane and beet growers, said the growers thanked the rest of the industry for their support.

“Sugar producers are grateful that so many peers from the agricultural community would speak in opposition to potential amendments that could gut U.S. sugar policy and outsource the country’s sugar production to subsidized foreign industries,” said Phillip Hayes, the ASA spokesman.

“Likewise, we have always worked hand-in-hand with others in agriculture to defend the farm bill and ensure it is not re-opened so soon after passage. Hopefully, lawmakers will once again side with America’s farmers and ranchers in this debate instead of a handful of multinational food conglomerates looking to pad profits.”