FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Phillip Hayes
August 8, 2012 202-271-5734 (cell)
From the International Sweetener Symposium:
Banks Back No-Cost Sugar Policy
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho—The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union aren’t the only ones making the current no-cost sugar policy a top Farm Bill priority. The American Sugar Alliance announced today that leading banks are also lending a hand during the debate.
“Simply put, the sugar program works,” wrote David Wilson of First South Farm Credit in a July 24 letter to the House Agriculture Committee. “It is the only no-cost federal farm program and it effectively stabilizes an efficient U.S. sugar industry against unfairly subsidized, dumped foreign sugar.”
First South is a major agricultural lender in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and part of Tennessee, and sugar policy gives them the confidence to extend capital to sugarcane producers, Wilson noted.
Days prior, another Louisiana lender sent a similar letter to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN).
“Weakening the U.S. sugar policy or changing it to an unproven system would undoubtedly affect our customers’ ability to repay loans and would negatively impact not only our bank but would send shockwaves through the entire economy, jeopardizing hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said David Kessler, the president and CEO of The Bank of Commerce.
Similar letters to lawmakers have been sent by the heads of AgriBank and CoBank, which provide considerable capital to sugar producers.
“The current sugar program has brought stability and prosperity to sugar producing rural areas for many years,” explained Bill York, CEO of AgriBank, the largest bank within the National Farm Credit System.
CoBank’s president and CEO Robert Engel echoed York’s assessment. “The world market in sugar remains terribly distorted and therefore the reasons for maintaining a reasonable sugar policy in the United States are as true today as they were 30 years ago,” he wrote. “The fact it runs at no cost makes it a smart, effective, minimalistic—yet essential—part of U.S. agriculture policy.”
Other bank leaders have even joined sugar producers on visits to Capitol Hill to urge that the 2012 Farm Bill continue the country’s successful sugar policy. In addition to the lending community, sugar producers received a huge boost recently from the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, which made maintaining no-cost sugar policy a Farm Bill priority.
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