In a recent op-ed published by Reason.com, Greg Beato beats the same drums anti-sugar natives here in the U.S. have been beating for decades. Abiding by the Rule of Three, let’s “reality check” a trio of his main points…
1.) Beato maintains that “consumers are getting screwed” by the U.S. sugar program that prevents artificially cheap sugar from flooding our market and warns us not to “expect a price cut on Snickers bars any time soon.” But that opinion defies reality.
The reality is that the cost of U.S. produced sugar today is roughly the same as it was three decades ago. So the fact that the cost of, say, a Snickers bar is now roughly 300% higher than it was 30 years ago indicates that there’s something other than the cost of sugar responsible for higher prices.
Also belying the claim that food manufacturers will pass cost savings through to consumers, the cost of sugar dropped some 50% back in 2012-13…yet the cost of sugar-infused products ROSE during the same time.
2.) Beato cynically claims that campaign contributions from sugar producers are responsible for the continuation of the present U.S. sugar program. This assumes the battle in Congress pits the almighty U.S. sugar industry against little old ladies baking cakes for a Sunday church sale.
That’s just silly. The reality is that U.S. sugar farmers continue to battle for protection from artificially cheap, foreign government-subsidized imported sugar against extremely wealthy multinational food companies – such as Hershey, Mars, Nestle and the Grocery Manufacturers of America – who have themselves hired the best “K Street” lobbyists money can buy.
The only reason Congress continues the U.S. sugar policy is because it’s the correct public policy in light of the current global market of foreign government subsidies.
3.) Armed with nothing but his own opinion, Beato categorically declares that “America’s food security would in no way be jeopardized by the loss of our domestic sugar industry.” But that flies in the face of the reality of the European Union experience.
Years ago, the EU unilaterally disarmed and allowed unfettered importation of artificially cheap sugar. Almost immediately thereafter, 83 sugar mills closed, 130,000 workers lost jobs and sugar prices skyrocketed. Indeed, grocery shoppers paid 20% more for food as tight supplies plagued Europe. That’s because foreign suppliers filled their own markets before stocking Europe.
Nobody likes the U.S. sugar program. Not even the U.S. sugar industry. But as long as foreign governments continue to subsidize their inefficient sugar producing operations, the reality is that Congress is going to keep protecting our own.