Roundup Ready Sugarbeets
On Thursday, March 17, the Center for Food Safety’s newest lawsuit was transferred from the U.S. District Court for Northern California to the U. S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
On March 28, the U.S. Department of Justice moved to consolidate the transferred case with the Grant vs. Vilsack case in which we are plaintiffs. On the same day, the Center for Food Safety withdrew their request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the planting of the 2011 crop, while reserving the right to re-file it at any time.
As always, check with your local processor for the latest information on litigation activity.
2012 Farm Bill
Anti-sugar policy political forces have already begun their efforts. Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) have co-sponsored one bill (S.25) to eliminate the policy, and Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar has a separate bill with the same intended result.
There was a recent announcement to relaunch the Sugar Reform Caucus to attract both House and Senate members.
We expect a strong battle to be waged, and are awaiting an announcement from the Senate Agriculture Committee for the schedule of hearings and other activities this year surrounding the deliberation of the new farm bill.
Everyone is watching to see what happens in the Senate in the 2012 elections. Democrats have 23 seats (including the two Independents) to protect, while Republicans have 10 seats up for re-election. At this point, eight Democrats and three Republicans have announced that they will not run for re-election, which clearly tees up a potential shift in Senate leadership in 2013.
House districts and delegations will shift due to redistricting that occurs every 10 years after a census. Republicans control 26 state legislatures (196 congressional districts), while Democrats control 24 (49 districts). Bipartisan or citizen commissions will draw 92 districts; control is divided in 91 districts; and seven districts are in at-large states that do not require redistricting.
There will be an important supply and demand estimate by USDA on April 8 to determine whether action may be taken to increase imports. Both raw and refined markets are strong, and the Administration is looking at this very closely. Beet and cane companies are keeping USDA apprised of their company’s view on the situation.
Under the current farm bill, the Administration is authorized after April 1 to allow more imports if the market requires it. But USDA must always be vigilant in recognizing too many imports can threaten costs to the program, and that Mexico is always a major and uncertain supplier. To date, USDA has done a good job managing the sugar policy.
2011 Planting Intentions
USDA-NASS announced 2011 sugarbeet planting intentions on March 31. The report forecast about 15,700 more U.S. beet acres this year than in 2010.
Unlike last year, weather has pushed growers back from earlier plantings this year. A close eye is being kept on the flooding in the Red River Valley as heavy snows melt.
‘Sugar Man of the Year’
This year’s prestigious “Sugar Man of the Year” award will be presented to John Richmond, recently retired CEO of Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative. This award is given to a distinguished leader in the beet and cane sugar industries each year. Mr. Richmond will be honored in New York City on May 19.
The unfathomable tragedy in Japan has captured our hearts and attention for the past weeks, and our prayers continue for the victims.
What, if anything, does this mean for sugar in that country — and what impact does/might it have on the world market? Japan produces just under one million metric tons of sugar and imports approximately 1.4 million metric tons — mainly from Thailand, Australia and South Africa. So this should have little, if any, impact on the world market.
Luther Markwart, author of Dateline Washington, is executive vice president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.