The 38th International Sweetener Symposium, held August 4th to August 9th, 2023, in Napa, CA, brought together key leaders of the sugarbeet and sugarcane industries to discuss challenges facing the American sugar industry. The group gathered in California – the only state that produces sugar from both sugarbeets and sugarcane.
The industry heard from a broad and bipartisan slate of members of Congress including leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. They offered strong support for sugar policy in the upcoming Farm Bill and spoke about the importance of a resilient domestic supply chain for sugar.
During panels at the Symposium, experts discussed the uncertainties in the global sugar market, the importance of domestic food security, sustainability in the U.S. sugar industry, consumer perceptions of sugar, and the political landscape of passing the Farm Bill.
“It is clear that we are at an inflection point in the market with softening demand and prices but continued high costs of production,” said American Sugar Alliance Director of Economics and Policy Analysis, Rob Johansson. “All of us gathered here – members of Congress and industry experts – understand that securing support for American-made sugar is a priority for the next Farm Bill.”
Randy Green, President of the Sweetener Users Association, told sugar producers that food companies and candy makers “highly value the work, reliability, and quality of American-made sugar.” Food manufacturers want the domestic sugar industry to be profitable and expand.
USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, Gloria Montaño Greene, emphasized that “USDA is supportive of sugar producers.” USDA is focused on making tough decisions to balance “support for domestic producers with the demands of the sugar market.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, two of the most prominent organizations representing agricultural producers, family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities across the United States, reiterated their support for passing the Farm Bill.
“America’s farm families have a tall order to fill in keeping our food supply safe, secure, and sustainable. The recent pandemic, severe weather, and inflation have all demonstrated the need for strong farm programs that help ensure farmers can continue stocking America’s pantries in all seasons,” said Joby Young, Executive Vice President, American Farm Bureau Federation.
“We have to ask ourselves, ‘are we truly operating in a fair and competitive market?’ Sugar policy is a prime example of how a program can work effectively to ensure that markets are both free and fair,” said Rob Larew, President, National Farmers Union. When it comes to agriculture policy, “we have to make sure we’re not trading away the future of America.”
Closing the Symposium, American Sugar Alliance Chairwoman Cassie Bladow said, “There are many challenges that face the U.S. sugar industry – but just as many opportunities. All Americans benefit from domestic sugar production. As we heard from members of Congress this week: food security is national security. A Farm Bill that supports domestic food supply chains and the safety net for farmers must include robust sugar policy.”