WASHINGTON — Food processors, soft drink manufacturers and candy makers are squaring off against the U.S. sugar industry in a familiar battle over a program that props up sugar prices.

The sugar program, a web of price supports, loans and tariffs that critics say rips off consumers, is one of the key battles in this year’s farm bill, a five-year renewal of federal farm and nutrition policy that always proves to be a headache for Republicans controlling Congress.

GOP leaders are promoting this year’s renewal of the measure as tightening work and job training requirements for food stamps. But the food stamp proposal has driven Democrats away from the bill, scheduled for a vote Friday. That means Republicans have to pass the measure with minimal GOP defections, and it puts pressure on Republicans who have criticized costly farm subsidies in the past to vote for them this time.

The sugar program is part of an amalgam of commodity support programs that have sweeping backing in Republican-leaning farm country. But most Republicans oppose the sugar program, saying it runs counter to the party’s free market bearings.

“It’s one of the most ridiculous programs in the entire federal government, and that’s saying something,” said Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.

Some GOP moderates are uneasy about the new work standards for food stamps, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would drive up to 2 million people off the program.

Currently, adults ages 18 to 59 are required to work part time or agree to accept a job if they’re offered one. Stricter rules apply to able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49, who are subject to a three-month limit of benefits unless they meet a work requirement of 80 hours per month.

The new bill expands that requirement to apply to all work-capable adults, mandating that they …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

      

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