European and U.S. Sugar Industries Oppose New T-TIP Import Commitments

From the International Sweetener Symposium: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho—Leaders from the U.S. and European sugar industries today agreed that no new market access commitments for sugar should be included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) trade deal between the United States and the European Union (EU). “America’s sugar market is already oversupplied with unneeded…

Sen. Crapo: U.S. and Mexican Governments Must Fix Sugar Market Mess

From the International Sweetener Symposium:

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho—The U.S. Department of Commerce found Mexico’s sugar industry guilty of dumping subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market and harming American producers. But the 2014 settlement forged between the two governments to avoid retaliatory tariffs isn’t working, a United States Senator said today at the International Sweetener Symposium.

Sugar Industry Thanks Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Staff for Their Service

From the International Sweetener Symposium:

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho—Calling Tom Vilsack “one of the finest secretaries that agriculture has ever had,” American Sugar Alliance chairman Luther Markwart paid special tribute yesterday to the current leadership at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Secretary Vilsack has been very good to our industry and has always been thoughtful,” he explained at the International Sweetener Symposium. “Over the past eight years, his team has implemented two farm bills, worked to build good trade deals for agriculture, and maintained an open-door policy for producers through it all.”

Messages from Congressional Leaders Set Stage for Sweetener Symposium

From the International Sweetener Symposium:

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — As the 33rd International Sweetener Symposium kicked off this morning, attendees received a warm welcome from Agriculture Committee leaders.

“We don’t have an economy or a middle class, for that matter, if we don’t make things or grow things. And that’s what each of you do,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI), the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a video message. “America’s great sugar industry is an essential part of the rural economy and our nation’s agricultural economy.”

New Study Spotlights India’s Sugar Subsidy Schemes

Govt. Handouts Total $1.7 Billion a Year and Distort Global Prices From the International Sweetener Symposium: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — A new report released today at the International Sweetener Symposium details the estimated $1.7 billion in annual subsidies propping up India’s inefficient sugar industry. The study’s author, Antoine Meriot of Sugar Expertise, LLC, spent months…

India’s Farmers Exploit Tax Loophole Subsidy

India’s government sets high sugar prices for its farmers, subsidizes mills to pay farmers the inflated prices, blocks competing imports, offsets farm input costs with subsidies, extends no-interest loans to cane millers, forgives many of those no-interest loans, and subsidizes exports to give its sugar producers a leg up on the world market. If you…

India’s Export-Import Yo-Yo

Later this week, the CATO Institute – a perennial critic of no-cost U.S. sugar policy – will host an event to applaud India’s economic reforms of the past 25 years. The event’s online flyer touts India’s “miracle economy,” which was realized after it “abandoned its traditional socialist policies and embraced economic liberalization and globalization.” Perhaps…

A Strong Farm Safety Net is Essential Right Now

During debate of the 2014 Farm Bill, many ag leaders reminded farm policy detractors that farm bills were written for the bad times not the good.

Back then, commodity prices were strong, farm incomes were up, farmland values were at all-time highs, and the global demand outlook was bright. Even though farm policy was operating well under budget because of a resilient rural economy, critics didn’t understand the need for a safety net and even championed gutting farm supports, including no-cost sugar policy.

Attaboy, Attachés

Ahhh…spring is in the air. Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, blooms are blooming, farmers are planting, and the USDA is busy releasing attaché reports.

Ok, that last one isn’t exactly a springtime staple, but it does occur like clockwork every April, and these reports often go unnoticed despite their importance.

What Goes Up Doesn’t Always Come Down

The price that U.S. grocery stores pay for sugar peaked in 2010 after shortages hit the global market and needed imports were difficult to attract. As a result, grocery stores charged shoppers more for bagged sugar at the checkout line in order to maintain their profit margins.

But market conditions quickly changed. Foreign exporters increased production with the aid of subsidies, turning shortages into surpluses, and prices on the world and U.S. sugar markets fell rapidly. However, the price that shoppers pay didn’t follow suit. Instead, it continued to climb.

World Price Volatility Continues. So Do Subsidies.

Back in 2007, raw sugar prices on the world market averaged just shy of 10 cents per pound.

To put that figure into perspective, the global average cost of producing a pound of raw sugar was more than 17 cents.

Yes, the price was low and producers were losing money on every pound of sugar sold. But amazingly, it was up more than 10% from the 8.8 cents per pound it averaged the decade before.

University of Maryland Economist Details Business Returns Under Current Sugar Policy

For Immediate Release: April 18, 2016
Contact: Phillip Hayes, 202-507-8303

WASHINGTON – Since the current U.S. sugar policy took hold in 2008, candy companies and producers of other sugar containing products (SCP) have added jobs, increased production, and boosted profitability, according to a new study by the dean of the University of Maryland’s business school.

Dr. Alex Triantis, who prepared the report for the American Sugar Alliance (ASA), wrote: “During 2009-2014 – a period that included a U.S. economic recession and unusually high world and U.S. sugar prices – SCP industry jobs rose by 3 percent while non-sweetened-food industry jobs were flat.”

This Week in the News

With so much going on in the world this week, chances are good that you missed a handful of important – albeit not-so-widely-read – sugar stories. So, we’ve flagged them for you and offered a little context.

The volatile world sugar market reminded us once again why it cannot be trusted to provide stable supplies. As Reuters noted in an April 1 article:

A Proud History Worth Continuing

“It will not be doubted that with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance…” George Washington said that.

Similar quotes by great leaders have been sprinkled throughout the history of our proud nation ever since, and their words make clear just how important farmers and ranchers are to America’s economy, security, and way of life.

U.S. Sugar Producers Comment on Nairobi WTO Ministerial Meeting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 22, 2015 CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-271-5734 (cell) WASHINGTON—The American Sugar Alliance issued the following statement about the results of the 10th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya: “We commend our Nairobi negotiating team for their hard work in securing an agreement that will bring a definitive end to…

Major Sugar Exporters Seek Global Subsidy Reform, U.S. Critics Fixate On Unilateral Disarmament

In an amazing twist, some of the world’s biggest sugar subsidizers signaled a desire to start a conversation about rolling back global subsidies to help make the market freer and fairer.

Sounds promising, except for the fact that a couple of vocal U.S. politicians were simultaneously signaling their desire to simply end U.S. sugar policy and reward subsidizers with more U.S. market share, thus foregoing any chance of worldwide reform.

Stakes On The Global Stage Are High. So Let’s Focus On…Sugar?

The President of the United States is in Europe discussing a global climate accord, which will hold economic and political ramifications for generations to come. Foreign allies are debating enhanced military involvement in the war on terror. Violence has gripped many U.S. cities. Racial tensions are flaring. A leading measure of U.S. manufacturing just fell to its lowest level since the recession, and overall business investment is slumping, dragging down the economy.

And at least two DC figures – Republican Congressman Joe Pitts and Grover Norquist – are screaming at the tops of their lungs this week that Congress must drop everything and focus on one key issue immediately: U.S. sugar policy.

Promises Kept or Promises Broken?

Congress made a promise to rural America when it passed the 2014 Farm Bill, which was the bi-partisan product of more than three years of careful deliberation and 40 hearings.

Although the 2014 Farm Bill reduced spending by $23 billion, lawmakers promised farmers that the bill would still provide them a strong five-year safety net to manage extreme weather and wild price swings caused, in part, by foreign subsidies and market manipulation.

Peculiarities of Presidential Politics

The road to the White House is long and twisting indeed, and it has taken some unusual turns so far. Candidates have discussed fantasy football, their undergraduate college years, competitors’ physical appearances, who’s really the most successful, inheritances, and who saw whom in the green room before a television appearance.

Little of this noise affected agriculture though, until this week’s Republican Presidential debate made an unexpected detour down a rural country road. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a well known opponent of agriculture (including ethanol and crop insurance), amazingly proclaimed that he wanted to reopen the Farm Bill and end U.S. sugar policy in order to boost defense spending.

U.S. Sugar Producers Comment on Final TPP Language

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2015 CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-271-5734 (cell) WASHINGTON — After reviewing the official text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the American Sugar Alliance issued the following statement: “We have carefully examined the final language and details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and are pleased to confirm that America’s trade negotiators delivered…

We See Your True Colors Shining Through

The past couple of weeks have been challenging, gratifying, and enlightening for the agricultural community.

Challenging in that an 11th hour, secret deal struck as part of a budget package contained crippling cuts designed to gut the crop insurance system on which so many farmers depend. In other words, the five-year contract that Congress signed with rural America as part of the 2014 Farm Bill would have been ripped to shreds before its effects were ever really felt.

Gratifying in that farmers from coast to coast quickly joined forces to lock arms and fight back when attacks surfaced. First, in a herculean lobbying effort to effectively beat back crop insurance cuts. Then, in sending a clear signal to anti-farmer forces angling to reopen the Farm Bill to target U.S. sugar policy.

Candy Profits Are Scary Good This Halloween

In the early 1900s, the candy industry was starting to see big sales around Christmas and Easter. But there was a gaping hole in the fall sales season. So industry leaders hatched a plan in 1916 to boost profits in October.

They concocted a holiday called (not so subtly) “Candy Day.” The Atlantic wrote an article all about Candy Day in 2010, and the publication unearthed some interesting materials from the National Confectioners Association, including these little ditties from 1916:

Sugar Producers Call for End of Global Subsidies at Congressional Hearing

October 21, 2015
CONTACT: Phillip Hayes
(202) 271-5734

WASHINGTON—During a House Agriculture Committee hearing about foreign agricultural subsidies today, U.S. sugar producers publicly pledged to scrap U.S. sugar policy if other countries would stop manipulating the global sugar market with trade-distorting policies.

“Absent government intervention, the world sugar price would rise to reflect the cost of producing sugar, and America’s efficient producers could compete well on a level playing field,” said Jack Roney, director of economics and policy analysis for the American Sugar Alliance. “We have endorsed a congressional resolution to eliminate U.S. sugar policy when foreign countries eliminate theirs.”

U.S. Government Rules Against Mexican Sugar Industry in Trade Case

CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-507-8303

WASHINGTON — The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) agreed today by a 6 to 0 vote that Mexico’s sugar industry harmed American producers by dumping subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market.

The verdict means that an accord signed by the U.S. and Mexican governments to establish a needs-based trading structure and stop Mexico’s abuses will remain in effect for at least five years.

Sugar Policy Critics Raking in the Dough

Ever since debate over the most recent Farm Bill began, large food manufacturers have been crying poor. It’s been the same old story since the debate began around 2011, and it continues even today as these companies lobby to reopen the recently passed Farm Bill.

Sugar policy, these critics say, is causing them financial pain, and the only way to rectify the situation is to outsource U.S. sugar production and let heavily-subsidized foreign producers flood the market with cheap sugar.

U.S. Sugar Producers Comment on TPP Deal

WASHINGTON—The American Sugar Alliance issued the following statement about today’s announcement that an agreement was reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal: [pullquote] “The American Sugar Alliance still needs to review the final language and verify details in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but we are cautiously optimistic about what we’ve learned from U.S. trade negotiators. …

The Power of Community

U.S. sugar production spans hundreds of communities in 22 states, supports 142,000 jobs, and pumps $20 billion a year into rural America.

At the American Sugar Alliance, we often cite big, national figures like these to drive home the importance of maintaining a strong sugar policy and supporting an important industry that helps feed the country.

Commerce Dept. Rules that Mexican Sugar Subsidies Distorted Trade

September 17, 2015
CONTACT: Phillip Hayes
202-271-5734 (cell)

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) today ruled that Mexico’s sugar industry unfairly dumped subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market. Mexico’s sugar industry was found to be dumping at margins of 40.48 percent to 42.14 percent and subsidized from 5.78 percent to 43.93 percent. Mexico’s government-owned sugar mills were subsidized at 43.93 percent.

10 Years After the Destruction

The news media recently made a huge deal about the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. And rightfully so. The storm changed the country forever and demonstrated how Americans come together with compassion and humanity to help their fellow citizens in crisis. For the sugar industry, the 2005 hurricane season was likewise life changing. And it…

If At First Subsidies Don’t Succeed, Subsidize, Subsidize Again

India’s sugar industry has become the poster child for government handouts lately. But it keeps complaining no matter how much subsidy it receives.

When first confronted by domestic surpluses and global prices deflated by Brazilian and Thai subsidies, India’s government stepped in to ease the pain. In March, it announced $90 million in WTO-illegal export subsidies to help sugar producers offload their excess.

The Truth Hurts, Mate

Australia’s sugar industry and the Big Candy lobby are as thick as thieves these days, joining forces to harm U.S. farmers, take essential sugar markets away from American allies in poor countries, and undercut existing agreements with Mexico. Luckily, U.S. trade officials have shown tremendous resolve during Trans-Pacific Partnership talks to not undermine U.S. sugar…