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October 14, 2004

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Scott Raun

Yeah, I'm interested in what it means to Romania.

Tina

Me too. Our politicians are well known for passing stupid laws, though...

claudia

Doug politely pointed out that I translated "Existenzfrage" wrong -- and me being a trained translator. [Sigh]

It means: a question or topic concerning existence, survival.

So, nothing to do with Sartre. Sorry.

Carlos

The US has interesting subsidies along those lines too, but more for our domestic cane sugar industry (though beets are also important). I've wondered why it hasn't been packaged as public health legislation -- cheap sugar leads to increased obesity et cetera. In Germany, you could even package it as human rights legislation, since working in the cane fields is godawful. Much more humane to have a guy sitting in a tractor.

C.

teep

I found a neat little report out of the University of Florida that goes over price supports for sugar...

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/BODY_FE375

Real world prices: $.10/lb, raw.
US prices: $.18 per lb, raw (.22/lb refined beet)
EU prices: > $.30/lb, raw.

The next link gives some nice Excel data on sugar prices for the world and the US...

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Sugar/Data/data.htm
(in cents per pound)

World, Sept. 2004: 9.10 raw, 11.12 refined
US-Only, Sept. 2004: 20.47 raw, 23.50 refined

Very educational blog you have here -- I learn all kinds of things.

Brian DiNunno

The Washington Post had an article a month or so back on the sugar beet industry in the US.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34133-2004Sep19.html

The article is couched in terms of the presidential election, since the area affected is the Red River valley of Minnesota (swing state) and North Dakota. Sugar Beet production didn't take off up there until the 1950's, despite the presence of German and Scandanvian farmers. The current "threat" is increases in sugar imports from Central America.

One thing to point out in all this is that the "cheaper sugar for consumers" argument won't show up much in buying sugar off the shelf. The price paid for that is more closely related to transport and retail shelf space than raw sugar price. Processed food containing sugar could be affected, but I would remain skeptical about how much of that price savings would be passed down immediately. High fructose corn syrup has already chewed into sugar beet and cane sugar in many prepared food processes.

claudia

Carlos said:

I've wondered why it hasn't been packaged as public health legislation -- cheap sugar leads to increased obesity et cetera.

Well, in the States that one might fly but not in Germany. In our law system, there is no provision for anything like that. You're responsible for your sugar consumption, not the sugar factory.

I wondered whether I should mention the US version of the sugar subsidies but thought it would blow the whole thing out of proportion.

Brian --

High fructose corn syrup has already chewed into sugar beet and cane sugar in many prepared food processes.

AFAIK, this is only true for the States. In Germany (and Europe in general, I believe), corn syrup is virtually unknown. Even our coke is still made with sugar, not corn syrup.

I'm also not sure whether the reduced price would be passed on to consumers. They're used to paying higher prices, right? Why then lower the price, if you can have double the profit from cheaper sugar...

That's why I'm against subsidies. They screw your economy up (or someone else's), but simply taking them back doesn't do much good, either.

teep -- interesting! And thanks for the compliment. We try. :-)


Claudia - off to do some research on sugar beets, Romania and the EU

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