Beet on the Brat


The good news? A boneheaded proposal in the lousy $300 billion-plus farm bill seems to be holding up its passage. The bad news? We live in a country where anyone within barfing distance of power thinks that what the U.S. sugar industry needs is more protection from the federal government. From the Wall Street Journal:

A proposal to sweeten government support for American sugar producers is emerging as a major sticking point between Congress and the White House in final negotiations on the farm bill.

The initiative is a priority for House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, a Democrat whose rural Minnesota district is among the nation's top producers of sugar beets. […]

Rep. Peterson is proposing to increase what sugar farmers can borrow from the government, an amount that hasn't been raised in 20 years. He wants to lock in allotments for domestic producers at about 85% of the U.S. market.

He also proposes a mandate that sugar imports be used for ethanol production. The provision would shield the domestic industry from foreign competition, which has increased after a trade agreement with Mexico and several Central American countries. […]

The sugar industry is lobbying strongly for Rep. Peterson's proposals. "It's been our No. 1 priority," said Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, which represents domestic producers, processors and refiners. "We have an administration that seems more interested in supporting foreign producers, than producers right here in America."

Read reason's six great reasons to unilaterally dismantle all U.S. farm subsidies here.

UPDATE: Did you need a reason to hate Hillary Clinton more?

Hillary Clinton today said that Sen. John McCain was wrong to say yesterday that he would veto the 2008 farm bill as President, noting it would provide American family farms with priorities like permanent disaster relief, country of origin labeling, renewable energy advances and rural development broadband deployment. […]

"Rural America is struggling in the face of skyrocketing energy prices, an economic downturn and rising food prices," Clinton said. "Saying no to the farm bill would be saying no to rural America." […]

"This Farm Bill needs to move and the president needs to get out of the way so that we can start taking care of rural America."