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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Elizabethtown, KY
    Posts
    51

    Default the politics of sugar

    Hello fellow beekeeping enthusiasts (I presume),

    I haven't been on this forum in a few months, but I thought I'd revisit to initiate a small dialogue on the current U.S. regulation of sugar prices and its subsequent affect on us who tend the honeybees. I've been a beekeeper for only two years or so, not very long, but I have noticed how important sugar can be to beekeepers, hobbyists and commercial beekeepers alike. Yes, there are a million theories out there, and some think sugar is not good to feed the bees; give them their honey. I'm not writing for that group of people.

    If this topic has already been discussed, I would not be surprised, but I'd like to at least share my experience.

    I'm a senior at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. I'm majoring in political science. In my class entitled US National Security, my professor (who grew up in Michigan) began talking about sugar beets (some of which are grown and processed in Michigan) and how big business relates to national security. My ears really perked up when he showed us the graph comparing US sugar prices compared to the world average. Apparently, the sugar industry in the US has artifically floated the price of sugar many times over the global price. I may be able to provide the chart later on.

    My professor explained that the sugar companies have political security which keeps the prices so incredibly high. The theory goes, it is extremely difficult to get a 10 million people mobilized over a .25 cents per pound of sugar or what have you. But ten people will get mobilized over a million dollars. This is basically what the sugar company has done. They know people won't throw a fit over the price exaggeration, so they raise the price well beyond its actual value.

    A dollar here or there doesn't matter much to the average US citizen. For a beekeeper however, who is buying sugar in bulk, the price can begin to really make a dent. The way to address the problem is to enact legislation that would bring the price of sugar back down to its actual value. Of course there enters semantics on what "value" means, but that's beside the point. I don't want to get into a battle with the sugar industry either, but I do think the sugar industry should at least give a break to beekeepers.

    Do any of you have any thoughts regarding this matter?

    Clayton

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Elizabethtown, KY
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: the politics of sugar

    test - I'm writing on an iPad, hopefully the image is attached. if not, I may not be able to attach the chart today. EDIT: the iPad won't let me upload the graph. I will try to upload it another day. It's from the USDA.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,013

    Default Re: the politics of sugar

    Quote Originally Posted by Clay View Post
    Apparently, the sugar industry in the US has artifically floated the price of sugar many times over the global price.
    Sellers in every industry would like to have higher than market prices. But short of collusion (generally illegal), it takes government price support or subsidies of one kind or another to achieve higher than market prices. Many US crops/farm products have some kind of government interference in market pricing. Here what the US government does for the sugar producers.

    The U.S. sugar program uses price supports, domestic marketing allotments, and tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) to influence the amount of sugar available to the U.S. market. The program supports U.S. sugar prices above comparable levels in the world market. The origin of the program can be traced to legislation in the Agriculture and Food Act of 1981 (1981 Farm Act).

    You can read the whole thing here:
    http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops...rs/policy.aspx
    But changing government farm support pricing to lessen the burden on beekeepers simply is not going to happen! There aren't enough voting and lobbying beekeepers that buy sugar. That is one reason HFCS has been very successful in the marketplace.

    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

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