Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland says he wants to wipe out the boomer-burst in farming and thus reduce wild variations in prices.
Dorgland, in an interview with the National Journal, said he will ask Congress to provide loans and granarins for farmer-controlled storage of good-year surpluses to be said in years when crops are poor. "We're going to move as hard as we can to minimize the swing in prices," Bergland said. "THis boom-and-burst business from an economic prespective is a disaster."
Bergland's comments come at a time of vast grain surpluses and the worst drought in 40 years.Many farmers face the prospect of selling off their currently low-priced excess not knowing how the weather may reduce their corps this year.
Applying to sugar the same philosophy of leveling off price fluctuations, he would like to see an international sugar agreement with upper limits on prices as well as minimums: "This nine cents one year and 65 cents the next year is just a disaster."
He said that such price swings rarely benefits consumers, that declines in wholesales prices are not passed on.
"I'm going to take that case to the American people," he said. "I'm going to say the consumers have not gotten that boom-and-burst pricing is not in the best interest of either the consumers or the producers.
"That's a major change in policy." Bergland said that, in the absence of an international agreement on sugar he wants import quotas and price supports for domestic growers. he said a support level would be less than 14 cents a pound, to protect growers from cheaper sugar substitutes.
He conceded that 14 cents would be insufficient for some sugar-growing areas where the cost of production may reach 18 or 22 cents a pound. "There's no way some of the high-cost areas of the country can compete" with sugar substitutes, he said.
"What I'm asking for is time to allow the transition from sugar to some other crop."