UPDATE 1-USDA asks White House to approve sugar-for-ethanol program
By Charles Abbott
WASHINGTON, April 8 (Reuters) - The White House will decide in coming weeks whether to attempt to blunt low prices in the U.S. sugar market by buying hundreds of thousands of tons of surplus sugar and selling it at a loss to ethanol makers.
If approved, it would be the first time the sugar-for-ethanol program, created in 2008 and known as the Feedstock Flexibility Program, has been put into operation.
The U.S. Agriculture Department sent its proposal to the White House budget office for approval at the end of last week.
Large crops in the United States and Mexico have pushed New York futures prices below the trigger price for potential forfeiture by processors of sugar to the government.
The sugar is used as collateral on USDA price-guarantee loans.
Forfeitures could begin in July, with the expiration of USDA loans that guarantee growers will get at least 20.94 cents per lb for sugar. The remainder of the loans expire in September.
"We're doing it because it's the law," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Monday at the North American Agricultural Journalists meeting. The tonnage purchased "is still not decided," he said. Continued...