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What if the U.S. had to rely on Indian sugar?

“For the first time since 1976, there is no single unified pan-India policy for the sugar sector,” reported The Hindu newspaper last week. “All state governments are deciding sugarcane prices or policies at will, creating intra-state distortions in production, marketable values and exports. The nation stands divided by sugar.”

Also last week, an Indian sugarcane farmer named Vittal Arabhavi committed suicide in the capital, where Parliament is in session, while participating in a protest against the government’s agricultural pricing policies.

Now imagine the U.S. relying on such an unstable import provider.

Devinder Sharma is food and agricultural policy analyst who told The Hindu that if government employees can get their pay linked to inflation every six months that “farmers too deserve to get an assured economic price linked to inflation.”

Not exactly a free-market policy.

Sharma also complained that sugar mills across India had formed a “cartel” and were refusing to pay higher prices for domestic sugar, while simultaneously showing “reluctance to modernise and diversify” their factories. Making matters worse, Sharma explained that “sugar mills are invariably controlled by politicians” and “the prices are therefore determined on the basis of which political party has a bigger clout.”

Politically-motivated, government price controls, combined with inefficient sugar refining operations, resulting in sugar farmers killing themselves to protest government policies?

Is it really in the United States’ best national interest to sacrifice our own domestic sugar industry for the promise of cheap imported sugar that may or may not be reliable in the years to come depending on which way the political winds blow in foreign exporting countries?

The current U.S. sugar program is far from ideal and far from free-market. Then again, the global sugar market itself is far from free-market.

Unless/until foreign sugar exporters are willing to eliminate their market-distorting government subsidies and price supports, it seems unwise for the U.S. to unilaterally eliminate our own sugar program.

That’s why Citizen Outreach continues to urge Congress to support Rep. Ted Yoho’s bi-partisan “zereo-for-zero” resolution calling on President Obama to seek elimination of all direct and indirect subsidies of sugar producing countries. You simply cannot have a true free market until all markets are free from government interference and manipulation. Please support HCR-39.