To Top

Sugar program appears likely to survive another Farm Bill debate

“As House and Senate negotiators work this week to negotiate a 2013 farm bill, it appears all but certain that federal limits on sugar imports will continue despite strong efforts by candy and soft drink makers,” reported the Times-Picayune in Louisiana on Monday.

“The House-Senate negotiators hope to announce a farm bill deal in the next few days,” the paper added.  “Otherwise, lawmakers likely will vote a one-month extension of current farm policies — to give the negotiators a little more time.”

Jim Simon, general manager of the American Sugar Cane League, attributed the success of the sugar industry to maintain the current program “to making the case that America needs a strong domestic sugar market — for the jobs it produces and to insure adequate supplies.

“We talk about the importance of what we do and why it is important to America to maintain American production so we don’t have to depend on foreign producers as we do for oil and gas,” Simon told the newspaper. “During World War II, because we relied on Cuba and other foreign producers, sugar was the very first food item to be rationed.”

Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, noted “that proponents of eliminating the sugar program don’t recognize that many foreign sugar producers are subsidized by their governments, putting U.S. producers at a disadvantage.”

“We advocates for American farmers know that we need free world markets,” Cassidy is quoted as saying. “The proponents of this amendment (pulling back sugar price supports) ignore that other countries, such as Brazil, subsidize their sugar industry as much as $3 billion per year.”

Indeed, it’s pretty hard to argue in favor of free market principles in a market that is decidedly not free of government interference and subsidies. That’s why we continue to advocate for Rep. Ted Yoho’s resolution (HCR-39) calling for a simultaneous global cease-fire of sugar subsidies and government supports in order to allow U.S. sugar farmers to compete head-to-head with their foreign competitors on a level playing field.