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Stop Teeing off on U.S. Sugar Farmers

In response to Scott Maxwell’s recent Orlando Sentinel column (“Sugar giveaways enrich politicians, cost you plenty”), let’s say Scott and I are about evenly matched in ability on the golf course and we head out to the links.  Only I get to hit from the ladies tees while Scott has to hit from the pro tees…plus I get one mulligan on each hole.


Of course not.  But that’s essentially the situation American sugar farmers find themselves in when competing globally against farmers in other countries whose governments directly subsidize their operations which artificially lowers the price and skewers the world market.

But even if you ignore this unlevel playing field, the fact is U.S. sugar today costs about the same as it did when Ronald Reagan was first elected president.  So if, indeed, the cost of a candy bar or ice cream cone is higher today, don’t blame sugar farmers.  Blame rising employment and other operating costs.

Or maybe padded profits for candy makers.

It’s easy to take pot shots at politicians fighting to protect American farmers from unfair “ladies tee” competitors, but the fact is Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida) has sponsored legislation to deal with global sugar subsidies that is perfectly consistent with Reagan’s strategy for dealing with Russian nukes back in the day: No unilateral disarmament.

Yoho’s “zero-for-zero” resolution calls on Congress to eliminate the current U.S. sugar program in exchange for simultaneous elimination of subsidies by other governments for their own sugar industries, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) providing independent “trust but verify” enforcement.

When it comes to sugar farming, let’s make sure everyone is hitting from the same tee and playing by the same rules…and may the best competitor win.