Attacks on U.S. sugar policy were threatened during consideration of the FY 2016 agricultural appropriations bills in the House and Senate. In the House Ag Approps Subcommittee, Cong. Charles Dent (R-Pennsylvania/Hershey) stated that he would not introduce a sugar reform amendment at that time, but he sent a clear message that he was likely to do so if and when the bill came to the floor. Any amendment in the subcommittee or committee would have lost, and that would not help him with a floor effort. With the appropriations process now in disarray, it is unlikely that any further appropriations bills will be voted on separately, but we always have to be ready for a vote.
The Senate Appropriations Committee was told by Senators Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) and Kirk (R-Illinois) that they had an amendment that would prohibit funds to make nonrecourse CCC loans available loans to any sugar company/cooperative that had gross revenues from sugar of $300 million or more in the previous fiscal year — which would make most sugar companies ineligible and force them out of the sugar program. Again, the amendment was withdrawn because a losing vote in committee would work against them on the floor. As in the House, a stand-alone agriculture appropriations bill is unlikely.
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Luther Markwart, author of Dateline Washington, is executive vice president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.