February 23, 2005

Delegation Applauds USDA Decision to Waive Sugar PIK Fines for Idaho Growers

Decision Protects Idaho Producers from Millions in Fines

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Idaho's Congressional Delegation today received confirmation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that dozens of Idaho sugar producers facing fines for their participation in the 2001 Sugar Payment-In-Kind (PIK) program would have their fines waived. Specifically, producers who participated in the program as a joint husband and wife operation will now be determined to have been proper participants in the program.The Idaho Congressional Delegation has been working with USDA officials in Washington, Idaho Farm Service Agency Director Wayne Hammon, Amalgamated Sugar Company, and individual growers to remedy this technical error for over six months. Today's decision is the culmination of those joint efforts."This is extremely good news for Idaho sugar producers and I am very happy with this resolution," Senator Craig said. "This was a great effort on the part of the growers, processors, and the Idaho delegation to work with the USDA to fix what could have been a horrendous problem. I applaud the assistance of the USDA and am glad we could bring closure to this issue."Senator Crapo, who is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, "USDA's efforts to work with the delegation, beet growers, and the Amalgamated Sugar Company to resolve this situation are much appreciated. Growers signed up for the program in good faith, and USDA has recognized that fact. This is great news for the growers and the company.""Today's decision is great news for the many Idaho producers with whom we've been working and for Amalgamated Sugar Company," said Simpson. "This decision ensures millions of hard-earned dollars will remain in the pockets of Idaho farmers and in the communities of rural Idaho. I want to commend the USDA officials in Washington and Idaho for responding to our concerns and for their cooperation and hard work in getting this situation resolved.""I was very pleased to find the cooperation we got from Department of Agriculture officials in response to our legitimate concerns," Otter said. "With all the variables of nature and markets, farming these days is tough enough without having to contend with bureaucratic confusion. Idaho's beet producers can rest assured their money is safe, and Idaho's economy won't take the hit."Idaho Farm Service Agency Director Wayne Hammon will be issuing letters to individual growers notifying them of today's decision. Hammon expects those notices to reach growers by the middle of next week.# # #