Hog markets are depressed. Farmers struggle to put food on the table. Hard times are seeping into the rural economy, hurting owners of grocery and hardware stores.
By Christopher Doering
The surge in sugar prices and potential risk of a shortage has provided some sweet fodder for one late-night comedian who can’t help but poke fun at the attention the tasty ingredient is receiving.
Stephen Colbert, who hosts the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, spent part of his show this week lamenting the sugar crisis.
After showing a montage of television clips about the sugar situation, Colbert proceeded to break a glass cover — similar to one containing a fire extinguisher — and pulled out a bag of sugar, which he dosed all over himself.
“Oh my God, there’s a sugar shortage,” said Colbert. “How could this happen. Well, like interstate highways and potable water it’s the government’s fault.”
Large U.S. food companies, including Kraft Foods, General Mills Inc and Hershey Co, have been pushing the Obama administration to ease sugar import curbs, citing forecasts for unprecedented sugar shortages that could result in higher retail prices and possible job losses.
In a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack dated Aug. 5, the companies and other groups warned that “our nation will virtually run out of sugar,” if a USDA forecast is accurate.
“Can you imagine an America with no sugar?” said Colbert. “Juice would contain nothing but 10 percent juice and we’d all be eating uncaramelized apples. What are we going to do?”
During his first week on the job, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said no one knows for sure how many people work at the Agriculture Department. Speaking to USDA employees and later to reporters, he used that startling anomaly as an argument to update USDA’s computer equipment.