Congressman Jerry Huckaby Headlines Program — “Headlining the speaking program at the International Sugarbeet Growers Institute in Crookston [Minn.] on Thursday, March 21, will be Congressman Jerry Huckaby (D-LA), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Cotton, Rice and Sugar of the Committee on Agriculture.” (See Huckaby photo below.)
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University of Idaho Monitors Curly Top Resistance Varieties — “Resistance to a nearly forgotten sugarbeet disease that has flared in Idaho in two of the past 10 years is being monitored at the University of Idaho’s Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Kimberly, Idaho.
“Glenn Mahrt, a UI research entomologist, reported at the UI Sugarbeet Schools in Caldwell and Burley that 1,629 commercial varieties or breeding lines were tested for curly top resistance this season.
“Curly top disease, which can wipe out a beet crop, is carried by beet leafhoppers. These insects flare sporadically, depending on weather conditions. Mahrt said no available chemicals are effective once infestations hit moderate or severe levels.
“Plant resistance has been the most common method of control since the late 1930s, but Mahrt said varieties introduced since 1973 are showing less resistance — a change that resulted in two outbreaks in 1977 and 1979 in southern Idaho.
“John Gallian, UI sugarbeet specialist at Twin Falls, said only varieties with maximum curly top resistance had been grown in southern Idaho since 1973, when the sugar companies were told they could no longer mandate the selection of varieties. Since that time, other less resistant varieties have been introduced into Idaho, with a subsequent increase in the loss due to curly top.”
Hawaiian Sugar Industry Barely Breaks Even -- “The Hawaiian sugarcane industry has lost considerable political clout since plantation owners, backed by U.S. gunships, helped overthrow Queen Liliuokalani in an 1893 bloodless coup, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal written by Staff Report Mike Tharp.
“Now, declining U.S. consumption, loopholes in U.S. price-support programs and other problems are eroding the industry’s economic clout, too. Sugar planters generally about broke even in 1984, and the 1985 outlook is bleak, growers say.
“ ‘This will be a loss year for a number of plantations,’ says Francis Morgan, president of Hamakua Sugar Co. and third-generation planter.
“A shakeout is likely, industry executives say. Puna Sugar Co. already has closed its only plantation, and ‘within the next several years, I feel there will be additional closings,’ says Marvin Tilker, executive v ice president of C. Brewer & Co., a unit of IU International Corp.
“The prospect bodes ill for Hawaii, where sugar is central to the economy and history of the region. Sugar is big business on the four islands where it is grown on 185,000 acres, providing 10% of the state’s general-fund tax revenue, 7,800 jobs and even 10% of Hawaii’s hydroelectric power, which is generated by burning the cane’s fibrous residue.”
Cycles of Spikes and Slumps / USDA -- “Sugar tends to follow a cycle characterized by 5- to 10-year periods of low world market prices interrupted by 1 or 2 years of price explosions. Since 1950, price ‘spikes’ have occurred five times, the latest in 1980/81.
“The sources of price volatility include: the inability of producers to adjust rapidly to changing economic conditions; price supports and trade policies that insulate producers from market fluctuations; and the decisions of individual governments to restrict exports in poor crop years and dump surpluses on world markets when their output exceeds their domestic demand.
“In addition, few nations are willing to reduce their production of this prized commodity, while many are eager to take advantage of any price jumps. Once new processing facilities are in place, there’s a strong incentive to keep them busy and a strong reluctance to close them down because of the large initial investment and start-up costs. So each time sugar prices go up, sugar production rises, prices soon decline, and consumption again begins a slow, steady catch-up path.
“For now, sugar is well entrenched in the surplus phase. World stocks have climbed from 25 percent of global consumption in 1980 to more than 40 percent. The European Community, a new sugar importer before 1977, is now a net exporter, subsidizing both production and exports. Meanwhile, world consumption is rather stagnant.”
U.S. Restricts Canada Blends -- “The United States announced new restrictions on blended sugar imports, mostly from Canada, to ease pressure on domestic sugar prices. The Department of Agriculture and the U.S. International Trade Commission said last year blended sugar imports did interfere with the U.S. sugar price support program, and restrictions were placed on imports of certain sugar blends and products containing sugar.
“[Added] declines in U.S. sugar prices since then have led to new calls for further restrictions, sources said.”
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