It's just about guaranteed that someone will look at the pending 1981 farm bill and decide that Congress is inventing Parliamentary Punch, a savory new concoction of sunflowers, sugar and hard liquor.
Sort of tucked away in the fine print of the farm bills in the House and Senate are provisions designed to give new help to sunflower farmers, sugar producers and the distilled spirits industry.
No one is predicting whether Congress as a whole will quaff the punch, but these are the appealing ingredients:
Thanks to Rep. Arlan Stangeland (R-Minn.), the House bill establishes a new federal price-support program for sunflowers, an important source of edible oil and an important new crop for many farmers in the Midwest. They have thrived without a program, but think they will do even better with one.
Over opposition of the Reagan administration, the House and Senate versions reestablish a price-support program for domestic sugar, a scheme virtually certain to provoke shrieks of opposition during floor debate.
Little noticed wording in the legislation will allow the distilled spirits industry -- distilled spirits are considered farm products -- to use federal funds to promote sale of U.S. booze at overseas trade fairs.
The most intriguing of these ingredients may be the sunflower, which is 20 years has grown from a symbol -- the state flower of Kansas -- to an enormously valuable cash crop for farmers in North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Texas.
In 1979, according to the Department of Agriculture, 5.4 million acres of sunflowers were harvested, producing more than $645 million in income. Most of the sunflower crop is processed into oils that are increasingly popular for their cooking and nutritive qualities. About three-fourths of the crop is exported.
The Reagan administration opposes Strangeland's sunflower plan, fearing it will cause new federal expenditures. But the congressman, a farmer, argues that rice, rye and peanuts, lesser in terms of acreage, already have price-support programs. The House bill sets a loan rate of $9 per 100 pounds; sunflower oil seed has averaged about $10 per 100 pounds during the las seven years.
Resurrection of sugar price supports is certain to be more controversial.
In the past, sugar was treated separately by Congress. The basic program expired with the 1978 crop, and producers have not had federal support loans since then, due largely to consumerist opposition to renewal of the program.
The sugar-state legislators' ploy this time around is to put cane and beet support loans under the big umbrella of the farm bill. They contend that a floor under domestic sugar, although raising prices to consumers, will preclude the roller-coaster price changes common in recent years because of world supply and demand gyrations.
Sugar prices are about 16 cents per pound. Under the House and Senate legislation, support prices next year would be 19.6 cents, meaning a certain escalation of price in the supermarket.
That little bit of equal opportunity for the liquor industry, supported by the administration, would mean that under the Food for Peace section of the farm bill, distillers could promote their product at trade fairs using foreign currencies accumulated by the U.S. government.
Farm product? There's nothing more basic than American bourdon, made with at least 51 percent corn mash.