Lawmakers introduce bill to change sugar program |

Lawmakers introduce bill to change sugar program

The Hagstrom Report

Four lawmakers who have been active for years in attempts to change the U.S. sugar program recently introduced the Fair Sugar Policy Act (H.R. 4521, S. 2568).

In a joint news release, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Danny Davis, D-Ill., said, “Since 2008, the federal sugar support program has cost consumers and businesses as much as $4 billion per year.”

The Fair Sugar Policy Act would eliminate marketing allotments; provide more flexibility to the Agriculture Department to ensure an adequate sugar supply to the domestic market; provide for the temporary transfer of unused import quotas to other countries with import quotas; and repeal the Feedstock Flexibility Program and make other changes to the program.

“Reforming the federal sugar program is long overdue,” said Shaheen. “Our current policies create heavy costs for consumers and put American jobs at risk.”

“This bipartisan bill will help make reasonable, commonsense changes to the federal sugar support program to change harmful policies and help grow American businesses. It’s time for Congress to put special interests aside and work to reduce costs and protect American workers in New Hampshire and across the country.”

“The current sugar program is a bad deal for American consumers and federal taxpayers,” said Toomey.

“It is time to reform this corporate welfare program that hikes food costs for families and threatens thousands of well-paying jobs in Pennsylvania.”

“There is one single commodity program that has not been reformed in over 80 years, and it’s the U.S. sugar program,” Foxx said.

“Despite its toll on manufacturing jobs and up to $4 billion annual cost to consumers, year after year the government guarantees the sugar industry its profits. When the government stops picking winners and losers and opts for free market capitalism instead of crony-capitalism, the American people win, and that’s what these reforms are all about.”

“The current U.S. sugar policy has kept the cost high for our Chicago-land area candy manufacturers and food processors,” Davis said.

“Our food processors that used sugar as an ingredient in their products pay twice as much for domestic sugar than the rest of the world. Chicago has lost thousands of jobs due to the protection programs for the sugar growers. We need sugar reform so that food companies are not forced to make difficult choices that effect thousands of jobs.”

The Sweetener Users Association, which represents industrial sugar users, praised the bill.

“American food and beverage manufacturers applaud the Fair Sugar Policy Act for the commonsense reform it would bring to the outdated and unnecessarily costly U.S. sugar program,” said Sweetener Users Association President Rick Pasco.

Phillip Hayes, a spokesman for the American Sugar Alliance, which represents cane and beet growers, said, “Sugar farmers, like others in rural America, have felt the negative effects of a prolonged recession and depressed commodity prices.”

“Unfortunately, a handful of farm policy critics continue to try and further harm the U.S. sugar industry by dismantling our successful no-cost sugar policy,” Hayes said.

“The Fair Sugar Policy Act is simply another version of an anti-farmer amendment that was soundly defeated by a 141-vote margin just last year. Congress has made it clear that they support America’s sugar farmers and U.S. sugar policy.” ❖