Monday, February 22, 2010

USDA Weighs Requests for Sugar Imports

(Reuters – Roberta Rampton)

The U.S. Agriculture Department continues to review sugar supply and demand forecasts to evaluate food industry requests to boost sugar imports, a top official said Monday.

Sugar supplies in the United States are currently adequate, but there is much uncertainty in forecasts for the rest of the year, said Jim Miller, undersecretary charged with trade policy, in remarks prepared for the International Sweeteners Colloquium in Miami.

"We are carefully watching the global market for sugar due to the significant tightening of supplies throughout the world," Miller said.

Raw sugar prices have more than doubled in the past year, with futures SBc1 hitting a 29-year high of 30.40 cents per pound on Feb. 1. Under the U.S. sugar program, the government balances sugar use with domestic supplies and imports to ensure a minimum price to farmers at no cost to taxpayers. Sugar from Mexico can enter the United States without restrictions under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Food companies have urged the USDA to boost imports from other sources. Read more here.