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All Aboard the Zero-for-Zero Express!

Because conservatives are well-known for their advocacy of free market public policies, it’s significant that a growing number of conservatives, including Members of Congress, are embracing Rep. Ted Yoho’s (R-Fla.) resolution that simultaneously defends the current U.S. sugar program while proposing a means to its eventual end.

Indeed, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) – representing a state not known for a vibrant sugar industry – recently signed on as a co-sponsor of Rep. Yoho’s House Concurrent Resolution 20 “Expressing the sense of Congress that all direct and indirect subsidies that benefit the production or export of sugar by all major sugar producing and consuming countries should be eliminated.”

Indeed, as Seton Motley wrote recently on (

“We’ve spent the better part of a century erecting ever-higher walls of trade impediment. And watching the world’s nations do the same. It would seem we need to work together to tear down those walls.”

Rep. Yoho’s “Zero for Zero” proposal would do just that.

If adopted, “the President, by agreements negotiated under the auspices of the World Trade Organization” would “seek elimination of all direct and indirect subsidies benefitting the production or export of sugar by” foreign governments.

Once the President “determines that all such subsidies by all such countries have been eliminated,” he or she would then report their findings to Congress and, after submitting such a report, propose legislation to also eliminate the U.S. sugar program.

Unlike other proposals before Congress that would result in “unilateral disarmament” by domestic sugar producers, Rep. Yoho’s proposed solution actually has the support of the American Sugar Alliance.

“Weakening U.S. policy in a vacuum punishes efficient U.S. producers, jeopardizes U.S. jobs, and doesn’t build a freer market,” ASA’s Carolyn Cheney told  “That approach only makes market conditions more volatile by rewarding the world’s worst subsidizers.   But Yoho’s approach gets all countries at the table and all policies on the table so that real market reforms can be made simultaneously.”

They zero out theirs; we zero out ours.  Makes perfect sense.

So why aren’t more free-marketers hopping onboard the zero-for-zero train?