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A Common Sense Answer to Sugar Program Hysteria

(Chuck Muth) – Nicholas A. Pyle, the chief lobbyist for the Independent Baker’s Association, has recently been spreading a series of almost identical op-eds to newspapers across the country the way Typhoid Mary spread the plague.

Even though Mr. Pyle oversees his own PAC, which doles out thousands upon thousands of dollar in campaign contributions, his “template” op-eds attack Members of Congress who have received financial support from American sugar farmers and refiners, alleging the support by these Members for the U.S. sugar program has been “bought” by the sugar industry.

One such op-ed was published last month by the Daily Voice in New Rochelle attacking the congressman who represents the workers and families of the Domino Sugar Refinery in Yonkers.

“Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) is in the pocket of the nation’s beet and cane sugar cartels!” Pyle shrieked in his missive.  “Engel continually votes to maintain the U.S. Sugar program. Why?”

In a follow-up letter-to-the-editor, Matt Schue, an employee of the local sugar refinery, answered Pyle’s question…

“(Congressman) Engel, just like most of America’s elected representatives, supports U.S. sugar policy because it keeps good-paying jobs in our country. This policy operates without taxpayer cost; it has kept sugar prices steady and affordable since the ‘80s; and it makes sure U.S. farmers and workers don’t take a backseat to foreign countries where sugar is produced under harsh labor conditions.

“Domino has operated continuously in Yonkers since 1938. For those of us who live here, the refinery is a source of pride that contributes millions to the local economy and provides good-paying union jobs for our community.”

Asked…and answered.

In addition, not only is foreign sugar often produced “under harsh labor conditions” but with foreign government handouts and subsidies that artificially distort the cost of their sugar on the world market, putting American producers at a decidedly unfair disadvantage.

The solution to establishing a fair global free market isn’t to unilaterally eliminate the U.S. sugar program, which protects American farmers and refiners from international “cheaters,” but to agree to eliminate the U.S. sugar program only AFTER foreign competitors eliminate government subsidies that artificially reduce the cost of production below true market value.

Congressman Ted Yoho has introduced just such a resolution known as “zero for zero.”  Rather than succumb to Mr. Pyle’s hysterical pleas for unilateral disarmament, Congress should adopt Mr. Yoho’s common sense, America first, proposal.