STOWE, Vt., Aug. 2-Sugar policy should be in a good position in the next farm bill because of its no-cost status, said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) via videoconference today at the 28th International Sweetener Symposium.

Although at greater risk during the ongoing debt reduction talks, he noted that sugar policy should continue to fare well. Conrad emphasized that he and other legislators steered negotiations to reduce farm spending by $11 billion over 10 years.

Conrad urged the group to continue telling its positive story as the Farm Bill process unfolds.

“All parts of agriculture need to reach out and speak positively about programs that provide our nation with the safest, most affordable and most abundant food supply on the face of the Earth,” he said. 

Never has so little federal spending helped so many Americans, he noted. “What is truly remarkable is how a relatively small group of people feeds all the rest of us,” Conrad said. 

“The Congressional Budget Office projects that program spending will be only 2.9 percent of total federal mandatory spending mandatory outlays over the next ten years,” he said. “When you exclude nutrition programs, agriculture program spending will be less than one percent of the total federal mandatory outlays over the next 10 years.”

According to Conrad, current policy has been “almost universally and unanimously supported by farmers” and “was fully paid for.” Some improvements can be made, he told the group, to reduce program complexity and duplication.

“We must determine how to deal with the 37 programs that expired next year and do not have any funding going forward,” he said. “As we begin to negotiate the 2012 Farm Bill, I’ll be working with my colleagues and you to reduce program complexity and duplication. At the same time, I’m committed to ensuring we maintain the economic safety net for our farmers because none of us know when the next slump in prices comes in the future.”


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