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Cheat Sugar, Not Cheap Sugar, is the Problem

By Chuck Muth, President, Citizen Outreach

Well, another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but not without the usual attack by Big Candy’s sweet-talkers on America’s sugar farmers.

Ross Marchand of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance weighed in with a weekend column calling to “end the not-so-sweet sugar program” and urging President Biden to “cut out this confectionary con job.”

Mr. Marchand’s column is filled with de rigueur misinformation about the U.S. sugar program, including the false claim that sugar farmers in America receive government subsidies and that targeted restrictions on certain foreign imports “create an unlevel playing field” for domestic candy manufacturers.

The column goes on to claim that U.S. sugar farmers oppose “inexpensive, foreign competition and have lobbied hard to keep cheap sugar out of the country.”

Here we go again…

If it costs me 50 cents to make a widget and costs you 75 cents to make the same widget, but your government gives you a 40-cent subsidy so you can sell your widget cheaper than I can sell mine…well, that’s not exactly a “level playing field.”

It’s not that American sugar farmers are opposed to “inexpensive, foreign competition.”  It’s that American sugar farmers are opposed to unfair, market-distorting, government-subsidized competition.

It’s not “cheap” sugar that’s the problem.  It’s “cheat” sugar.

Give U.S. sugar farmers a level playing field without foreign government subsidies and U.S. sugar farmers will out-produce their international competitors any day ending in “y.”

If you want to eliminate the U.S. sugar program of targeted tariffs and import restrictions on government-subsidized foreign sugar, fine.  But only if those foreign government subsidies are eliminated at the same.

Zero-for-Zero.  Zero U.S. tariffs and quotas in exchange for zero foreign subsidies.  No unilateral disarmament.  So let it be written; so let it be done.