(Chuck Muth) – A couple dozen members of the U.S. Senate and House, led by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) have raised from the dead a bill to unilaterally eliminate the U.S. sugar program.
The intent is to lift restrictions and open the floodgates to artificially cheap sugar imports from countries that subsidize their home-grown sugar industries – including Brazil, India, Thailand, Russia, Mexico and the European Union.
The irony is Shaheen’s argument that eliminating the U.S. sugar program would “reduce market distortions caused by sugar import quotas” when the fact is the import quotas are necessary because of the market distortions caused by unfair foreign government subsidies.
For his part, Sen. Toomey mischaracterized the U.S. sugar program as a “corporate welfare program” – even though, unlike their foreign competitors, U.S. sugar farmers get NO government subsidies – and claimed the program “jacks up food prices.”
The truth is, the cost of domestic, made-in-the-USA sugar has been remarkably stable for the last three decades under the existing U.S. sugar program while the cost of sweets and treats has gone through the roof.
In fact, it’s not the cost of sugar that’s jacked up food prices; it’s the cost of labor, taxation, government regulations, insurance and, yes, Big Candy profit-taking.
Another inconvenient fact: Eliminating import quotas on foreign sugar from competitors who “cheat” in the international marketplace would wipe out many U.S. family sugar farms.
“The cynically-named Fair Sugar Policy Act is yet another radical attempt to outsource American jobs to foreign countries who heavily subsidize their producers,” the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) said in response to the Shaheen-Toomey bill and a House companion bill sponsored by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Danny Davis (D-IL).
ASA went on to note that the resurrected legislation “comes on the heels of a devastating global pandemic that continues to reaffirm the importance of maintaining strong domestic supply chains for essential products like sugar.”
And if you don’t think the supply chain threat is real, just take a look at all the empty shelves on American retail and grocery stores today for all manner of products thanks to the coronavirus and some of the misguided government responses to it.
There’s simply no reason for making this bad situation worse by eliminating the widely successful, no-cost-to-taxpayers U.S. sugar program.
Citizen Outreach is a free-market grassroots advocacy organization. For more information, please visit www.CitizenOutreach.org