Sugar rush – Restating the Obvious by Harry Eagar – Mauinews.com

Funny how things work out. Our new mayor wants to take over plantation water systems (although when he had a chance four years ago, he backed down).

A couple of years ago, a combination of drought and low prices had HC&S on the ropes, and the board at A&B was beginning to wonder whether sugar was a business they wanted to be in. At best, it accounts for only about 7% of revenue. HC&S is such a small part of A&B that it cannot ever contribute largely to profits, although it can — and recently has — hammered them down.

Since A&B answers to Wall Street, which does not give a damn about Upcountry water meters, low sugar prices open the way to a county takeover of EMI. This would be a disaster, but, like I say, funny how things work out.

Arakawa’s in, sugar prices are up, A&B will presumably stick with HC&S for a while longer, the valley will be green and Kihei will not have to live through endless dust storms.

The Financial Times sez:

“The price of sugar has jumped to a 30-year high as the Brazilian harvest has tailed off sharply, hardening expectations of a shortage.

“Traders believe that prices could soar over the coming months as the market faces a supply shortfall driven by smaller-than-forecast crops in important growing countries from Brazil to Russia and western Europe.”

The whole story is worth reading. The FT correspondent recognizes, which few do, how important sugar, the cheapest form of calorie, is to poor people.

For a long time, European subsidies kept sugar prices low, damaging Hawaii plantations. It could be — though probably it won’t be — that we are entering a long period of high sugar prices.

That won’t bring back Hawaii plantations, though.

The state Constitution says we encourage agriculture. The best way to have encouraged agriculture would have been to have talked Europe out of subsidies 40 years ago, but the Constitution doesn’t say how you do that.

Sugar rush – Restating the Obvious by Harry Eagar – Mauinews.com

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