America’s Sugarbeet and Sugarcane Farm Families, Factory Workers Applaud the Strong Sugar Provisions Included in Senator Boozman’s Farm Bill Framework

On behalf of America’s sugarbeet and sugarcane farm families and the factory workers from across the country represented by the American Sugar Alliance, Neil Rockstad, a Minnesota sugarbeet grower, fourth-generation farmer and President of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, and Patrick Frischhertz, a Louisiana sugarcane grower and eighth-generation farmer, issued the following joint statement in response to the Farm Bill framework released this week from Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman, R-AR: 

“Our farm families need a bipartisan, bicameral, and highly effective Farm Bill. Senator Boozman’s proposal represents another positive step towards its enactment. We thank Ranking Member Boozman for his diligent efforts to understand the needs and concerns of the American sugar industry and to respond with improvements to sugar policy similar to those championed by Senate Chairwoman Stabenow and House Chairman Thompson. We stand ready to work with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to encourage Congress to make this shared goal a reality this year. This effort is vital to delivering greater certainty and a strengthened safety net for America’s farm and ranch families.” 

Statement on House Committee Passage of Farm Bill with Strengthened Sugar Policy

The American Sugar Alliance issued the following statement on the bipartisan passage of the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 by the House Agriculture Committee: 

 

“Yesterday’s bipartisan committee passage of the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 includes strengthened sugar policy provisions that will help ensure our family farmers and workers can continue to provide an affordable and reliable supply of made-in-America sugar. We greatly appreciate Chairman Thompson’s leadership on this issue and urge Congress to enact a strong, bipartisan five-year Farm Bill this year that will deliver greater certainty for stakeholders and a strengthened safety net for America’s farm and ranch families.” 

India Continues Bitter Sugar Subsidies

A new U.S. government report on India’s egregious trade practices, co-authored with the government of Australia, once again demonstrates the importance of a robust U.S. sugar policy.

As Congress is preparing to debate a five-year Farm Bill that includes a strengthened safety net for American sugar crop farmers – at no cost to U.S. taxpayers – U.S. and Australian officials are providing evidence to the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the billions of dollars in subsidies India has lavished on its producers.

India subsidized its sugar industry by a whopping $17.1 billion in 2022. Those subsides are “vastly in excess of levels permitted under WTO rules,” according to the report, and continued even after a dispute panel ruled in 2021 that India had violated its WTO commitments on sugar.

India continues to be the poster child of a world sugar market that is, at best, dysfunctional, and at worst, prone to volatile market swings due to manipulation. In fact, even after that dispute panel finding that India was subsidizing its industry by $13.4 billion in 2018, the subsidy levels continued to climb to $15.9 billion in 2019, $14.6 billion in 2020, $16.5 billion in 2021 and $17.1 billion in 2022. And those amounts do not even include the supports that India has been providing its sugarcane ethanol sector, which also serve to distort the world market.

Ultimately, billions of dollars in foreign sugar subsidies from huge sugar producing countries like India and Brazil encourage the over production of sugar. That surplus sugar gets dumped on global markets, driving world sugar prices down below the costs of producing that sugar.

Unlike other countries, U.S. sugar crop farmers and workers produce a reliable supply of sugar under some of the world’s highest safety, labor, and environmental standards and at zero cost to taxpayers. India, on the other hand, is openly flaunting its WTO commitments to fair trade and repeatedly violating the rules. That is why Congress does not allow heavily subsidized foreign sugar to be dumped on our market.

The U.S. sugar industry has repeatedly called for an end to all global sugar subsidies, a concept known as zero-for-zero, and a modernized WTO that brings transparency and accountability to the world sugar market.

Until a true free market can be developed, weakening U.S. sugar policy would sacrifice our efficient American farmers to predatory practices, threaten 151,000 jobs, and undermine our national food security. All to benefit countries like India that continue to cheat the system with a bitter scheme of subsidies.

Support U.S. sugar producers by supporting a strengthened U.S. sugar policy.

America’s Sugarbeet and Sugarcane Farm Families, Factory Workers Applaud the Strong Farm Safety Net in House Farm Bill

On behalf of America’s sugarbeet and sugarcane farm families and the factory workers from across the country represented by the American Sugar Alliance, Neil Rockstad, a Minnesota sugarbeet grower, fourth-generation farmer and President of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, and Patrick Frischhertz, a Louisiana sugarcane grower and eighth-generation farmer, issued the following joint statement on the draft text release of the House Agriculture Committee’s Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024:

“As farmers, we’re proud to play a critical role in feeding America, yet high production costs, rising foreign subsidies, predatory trade practices, and often Mother Nature have conspired to make it very difficult for family farms like ours to survive. That’s why we are so grateful that the Farm Bill text released on Friday by Chairman GT Thompson provides a strong new safety net for our farm families. Chairman Thompson and his team worked tirelessly to craft the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, spending countless hours listening to the concerns of farmers and ranchers, and we commend him for his outstanding leadership.  

“We thank the House Agriculture Committee for the strengthened U.S. sugar policy contained in this bill which will help ensure that America’s 11,000 sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers and our workers can continue producing an essential ingredient in our food supply, maintain resilient supply chains, and meet the needs of American families and all of our customers.  

“Our farm families need a bipartisan, bicameral, and highly effective Farm Bill. This legislation from Chairman Thompson is the first major step towards the enactment of the 2024 Farm Bill. We stand ready to work with Chairman Thompson and all congressional leaders to make this shared goal a reality this year. This effort, particularly the farm safety net features for sugarbeet and sugarcane farm families in Chairman Thompson’s bill, merits lawmakers’ strong support.”

Colorado, Montana Sugarbeet Farmers Urge Congress to Support Sugar Policy

With the next Farm Bill on the horizon, two sugarbeet farmers recently took to the pages of their homestate papers to praise U.S. sugar policy for keeping our food supply secure and supporting their family farms. U.S. sugar policy must be preserved and strengthened in the next Farm Bill.

Colorado farmer Paul Schlagel grows sugarbeets in Boulder County for Western Sugar Cooperative. His family farm has been in operation for more than 100 years. Paul wrote in his op-ed for the Colorado Springs Gazette that the economic pressures and significant cost increases facing farmers requires a stronger farm safety net.

“It is more important than ever that we have the strongest safety net possible to sustain current [sugar] production levels and maintain our national food security,” Paul wrote. “Without a strong safety net, family farms like mine would be driven out of business and countless jobs would be eliminated.”

In Montana, farmer Shane Strecker, who also grows sugarbeets for Western Sugar Cooperative, pushed back against farm policy critics in the Billings Gazette. Shane pointed to the recent closure of Sidney Sugars in Montana and the resulting economic and job losses as a warning sign of what could happen if U.S. sugar policy were weakened.

“Letting farms like mine fail by eliminating a policy that costs taxpayers nothing would mean fewer American jobs and more food grown in [sugar] subsidizing countries like Brazil and India. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take, and I bet most Americans aren’t either,” Shane wrote.

Sugar crop farmers like Paul and Shane are critical to maintaining a strong and resilient domestic supply of an essential food ingredient. We are grateful for Congress’ continued bipartisan and bicameral support of the no-cost sugar policy that allows these farmers to survive.

Experienced USDA FAS Official Joins Sugar Alliance

A long-time veteran of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Casey Bean will join the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) as the organization’s trade consultant on May 1. Bean will work with ASA to analyze the complex global trade issues that impact U.S. sugar farmers and shape America’s no-cost sugar policy.

With more than thirty years of experience working with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Bean’s work at FAS spans multiple regions across the globe including the countries of Bolivia, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Japan, Pakistan, Peru, and Venezuela. He participated in trade negotiations and enforced the rules critical to maintaining a level playing field for U.S. agriculture as a member of the Senior Foreign Service, both while overseas and as a senior director at FAS headquarters.

Most recently, Bean served as Agricultural Counselor with the rank of Agricultural Minister Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. In this capacity, he liaised with USDA and USTR staff, U.S. lawmakers, and other leaders to promote U.S. priorities and strengthen domestic food security in the 7th largest market for U.S. food and beverages.

“We are excited to welcome Casey to the team at this critical juncture for America’s sugar producers and farm policy,” said Cassie Bladow, Chairwoman of ASA. “His expertise, contacts, and on-the-ground trade experience will help our industry navigate new challenges on the world stage while moving the needle forward on our goal of a less distorted and more predictable global sugar market.”

The world sugar market is widely considered to be the most distorted and volatile commodity market in the world, fraught with trade rule violations and billions in foreign subsidies, threatening the sustainability of America’s sugar industry and the livelihoods of more than 151,000 American workers.

Bean will continue the excellent work of seasoned trade negotiator Brian Grunenfelder, who has served the industry since 2019.

“We are immensely grateful for Brian’s expert guidance over the past five years and unwavering commitment to fair trade,” Bladow said. “On behalf of America’s sugarbeet and sugarcane family farmers and factory workers, we are grateful for his dedication to ensuring that U.S. sugar producers can continue to contribute to America’s stable supply chain. We wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement!”

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Bright Forecast for America’s Sugar Industry

Recently the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri released their outlook for U.S. agriculture. They project that American sugar production remains strong and is expected to grow, despite challenges we have seen over the past couple years including factory closures in Sidney, MT, and Santa Rosa, TX.

“Despite new and existing challenges, the forecast is bright for American sugar production as long as the farmers’ safety net is strengthened,” said Dr. Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance.

Most of America’s sugarbeet growers are beginning to plant the upcoming crop, while sugarbeet growers in California have just started their harvest and sugarcane producers in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas are finishing the harvest and processing of the most recent sugarcane crop.

“The diversity of locations for sugar production is one of the underpinnings of our strong domestic supply chain for sugar — if one region is having weather challenges, another is likely enjoying good growing conditions,” added Johansson. “We have operations spread across more than two dozen states with distribution centers located across the country.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to update their forecasts for this year’s production. USDA currently forecasts a near-record 9.215 million tons of sugar will be produced in the U.S. this year, meeting about 74% of U.S. demand with made-in-America sugar supplies. That would keep America the fifth largest producer of sugar in the world, and the third largest sugar importer.

The first forecast from USDA for the upcoming year’s planting season will be in May, but based on FAPRI’s recent forecast, it is safe to assume that USDA will show an increase in sugar production from domestically grown sugarbeets and sugarcane.

Economists from Louisiana State University and the University of Tennessee also recently published an overview of the domestic sugar market in Southern Ag Today which debunks a misinformation campaign about any “sugar shortages.”

That’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges.

In February of this year, the Texas sugarcane mill announced it will close due to Mexico’s non-compliance with a long-standing water treaty, dealing a serious blow to the industry and leaving workers out of jobs. Farmers around the country continue to deal with high input costs and low profit margins, with the cost of growing sugarcane and sugarbeets up by more than 30% since the last Farm Bill. This year’s challenges have highlighted the immense importance of the flexibility of U.S. sugar policy.

U.S. sugar policy not only keeps food manufacturing lines humming and consumers supplied, it’s also a great deal for taxpayers. New estimates from FAPRI show that the U.S. sugar program is projected to remain at zero cost for the next 10 years.

A five-year Farm Bill that reflects current economic realities and strengthens U.S. sugar policy will ensure America’s sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers and workers can continue supplying us with a critical component of our national food supply, no matter the challenges ahead. We can all be assured that we will always have adequate supplies of American-made sugar.

That’s good news for American taxpayers and consumers.

Statement on the Passing of Former USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation

The American Sugar Alliance and its more than 11,000 sugarbeet and sugarcane family farmers mourn the loss of Bill Northey, a champion for agriculture.  Mr. Northey while at USDA shepherded the implementation of 2018 Farm Bill and the sugar Suspension Agreements with Mexico. He also guided farmers through unprecedented natural disasters, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic and its shocks to the U.S. food and agriculture system.

“Under Secretary Northey will be missed by all farmers and ranchers across our great country. During his time at USDA, he helped ensure the prudent administration of U.S. sugar policy and he was instrumental in helping sugarbeet farm families weather the severe natural disasters of 2018 and 2019,” recalled Cassie Bladow, Chairwoman of the American Sugar Alliance. “American sugarbeet and sugarcane families unite our hearts and our prayers with the Northey family.”

“Bill was always looking for ways to make programs easier and quicker to implement, so as to get needed assistance to farmers and ranchers as quickly as possible.   He was tireless in his advocacy for American agriculture,” recalled Dr. Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the Sugar Alliance.  “I personally will miss Bill and his ever-present smile and quick laugh. He was a great mentor to me and many at USDA.  He will be dearly missed.”

American Farm Bureau Federation Backs U.S. Sugar Producers – Votes to Endorse No-Cost Sugar Policy

Last week the American Farm Bureau Federation met for its 105th convention, gathering farmers and ranchers from across the country to discuss issues critical to its members. As part of its 2024 policy resolutions, AFBF expressed its continued support for no-cost sugar policy.

“We applaud the American Farm Bureau Federation’s continued support of no-cost U.S. sugar policy,” said Cassie Bladow, chairwoman of the American Sugar Alliance. “We appreciate having AFBF as a strong partner as we advocate for America’s sugar producers in the next Farm Bill.”

AFBF’s policy resolution advocates for a program that safeguards the interests of domestic sugar producers and supports critical pillars in the sugar policy, including:
• A program to protect the interests of domestic sugar producers.
• Legislation that includes provisions that ensure a strong and economically viable domestic sugar industry.
• A program that meets our trade commitments and ensures a fair playing field for U.S. producers.

As the largest association of American farmers and ranchers, AFBF has consistently supported U.S. sugar policy as part of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide loans to domestic producers. These loans are repaid with interest, and the policy operates without subsidies, meaning it incurs no costs for taxpayers.

U.S. sugar policy also has strong bipartisan support in Congress and is supported by a large coalition of agricultural and stakeholder groups across America. ASA again thanks AFBF for its ongoing partnership.

WSJ Letter to the Editor: Don’t offshore our American family farms

By Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance

American family farmers work around the clock to grow the sugar crops that help feed our nation. Phil Gramm and Donald J. Boudreaux demonize them by referencing a flawed GAO report that ignores the serious threat to our farmers and agricultural communities by foreign subsidies and predatory trade practices that profoundly distort the global sugar market.

Far from “a politically connected few,” more than 151,000 jobs across two dozen states–including Mr. Gramm’s home state of Texas– rely on a strong domestic sugar industry, which contributes more than $23 billion each year to the U.S. economy. The policies in place level the playing field for American sugarbeet and sugarcane family farmers and sugar factory workers who face unfair competition resulting from foreign subsidies.

American sugar policy comes at zero cost to taxpayers while ensuring a reliable supply of sugar to households and food companies.  America’s strong supply chain for sugar allows food companies to run their factories without pause or the need for huge storage facilities, saving them hundreds of millions each year. The policy also helps U.S. farmers to increase productivity and to meet high labor and environmental standards, which are well above those in most other sugar-producing countries. The authors and the flawed GAO report also fail to consider those benefits.

Americans overwhelmingly prefer homegrown American sugar and support our farmers. As the world’s third-largest sugar importer, the U.S. is already heavily dependent on unreliable foreign producers. A strong domestic industry is strategically important for the production of an essential ingredient for the food security of our nation. Opening markets to a flood of heavily subsidized sugar imports would result in the offshoring of our family farms and leave consumers and food manufacturers at the whims of increasingly volatile sugar markets.

Congress has strongly supported policies that keep the playing field fair for American farmers, improve farm productivity, and maintain strong supply chains for food and agriculture. The American Sugar Alliance looks forward to working with other commodity groups and Congress to craft and pass a new Farm Bill that does just that.

 

Farm Policy Experts Note Rising Costs of Producing Sugarbeets and Sugarcane

In a recent Southern Ag Today article, two well-respected professors looked at the rising costs of production for sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers. Their analysis, which is a timely addition to the upcoming farm bill discussions, is in stark contrast to the non-treatment of this important issue by GAO in a recent report purportedly on the U.S. sugar market.

“Drs. Diliberto and DeLong examined how inflation has increased the cost of planting, cultivating, and harvesting sugarbeets and sugarcane since the last Farm Bill,” said Rob Johansson, Director of Economics & Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance. “Knowing how much those costs have changed is important to know when looking at crafting a new farm bill that addresses the needs of producers today. It is unfortunate that the GAO, when writing their report for Congress over the past two years, considered neither the costs of producing sugar nor the high labor and environmental standards in America compared to other sugar producing countries.”

The authors found that the costs of growing sugarbeets and sugarcane have “drastically increased” by more than 30% since the last farm bill. The breakeven price to cover sugarcane production in Louisiana was found to be 28.2 cents/pound, far beyond the 17.2 cents/pound from 2018.  And the breakeven price for sugarbeet production in Minnesota/North Dakota was found to be roughly $52 per ton of sugarbeets up from $40 per ton at the writing of the last farm bill.

This Southern Ag Today article, as well as the article on November 30, Evaluation of the Recent Government Accountability Office Sugar Program Report, underscores the necessity for a more balanced and comprehensive understanding of U.S. sugar policy.

The insights from these farm policy experts spotlight critical research studies overlooked by the GAO, including: How does the financial performance of sugar-using firms compare to other agribusinesses? An accounting and economic profit rates analysisFactors Affecting Sugar-Containing-Product PricesThe impact of US sugar prices on the financial performance of US sugar-using firmsEconomic Impact of the U.S. Sugar Industry; and the Sales and Costs of Confectionery Industries in North America.

The American Sugar Alliance is grateful that research at Louisiana State University and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville continues to inform decision-makers on agricultural production here in America and key farm bill considerations.

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There is No Sugar Supply Shortage in the United States. Period.

Recently, big corporate candy executives have been pushing a false narrative that there is a domestic sugar shortage. According to a recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture, not only are these reports totally false — there is actually a plentiful supply of sugar, assuring American families they will once again enjoy another holiday season with all their favorite treats.

Consider the following facts about how much American sugar beet and sugarcane farmers are contributing to our domestic supply right now:

>> The latest USDA WASDE report showed there is plentiful supplies of sugar in the U.S. for the holidays and heading into 2024. The USDA expects a surplus of more than 3.2 billion pounds, and it is likely that will exceed 3.4 billion pounds by the end of the marketing year. Last year, the USDA reported a surplus of more than 3.7 billion pounds.

>> We haven’t seen domestic shortfalls of sugar in part because when there is lower production in one region of the U.S., there is often an offsetting increase in production elsewhere.

>> Weather has been a factor in certain regions, but it’s not impacting our country’s sugar supply. The U.S. has an incredibly geographically diverse sugar supply across more than two dozen states.

  • The U.S. had an excellent sugarbeet harvest this fall, and beet sugar production is expected to exceed 5.36 million tons, a new record.
  • While drought has lowered Louisiana’s expected production from last year’s record crop of more than 2 mil tons to about 1.8 mil this year, that total may rise if good harvesting conditions continue in January.
  • Texas’ sugarcane industry is dealing with low water supplies due to drought and Mexico’s failure to deliver water owed under the Water Treaty of 1944, but Florida’s sugarcane harvest is still coming in strong.

>> Overall, U.S. sugar production is currently estimated at 9.243 mil tons of sugar, which would be the 3rd largest year of sugar production ever. In general, the United States is the 5th largest producer of sugar in the world.

As big corporate candy executives attempt to blame American farmers for problems that don’t exist, they are at the same time taking in record profits and aiming even higher.

Our farmers are proud to supply America’s families as well as stores and food companies while supporting more than 151,000 jobs around the country in more than two dozen states. The $23.8 billion each year in economic activity contributes to economic opportunities for many rural and urban communities.

 

Farm Policy Experts Respond to Inaccuracies in GAO Sugar Report

In a recent Southern Ag Today article, three well-respected experts on farm policy – including sugar policy – criticized GAO’s recent report on sugar.

“GAO’s report did not add anything new to the discussion of the U.S. sugar program, and it missed an opportunity to finally provide a balanced report which includes the benefits provided by the U.S. sugar program,” noted Professors DeLong, Deliberto, and Fischer in their recent SAT article.

 The authors highlight that the GAO’s reliance on old analyses overlooks recent U.S. sugar market developments (like ADCVD actions against Mexico and related Suspension Agreements) and doesn’t acknowledge predatory subsidies by countries like Brazil (ethanol sector) or India (sugar sector), contributing to the world’s most distorted commodity market.

“Professors Fischer, DeLong, and Diliberto’s article highlight additional areas that GAO missed in its analysis,” said Dr. Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance. “As the co-authors noted, it is odd that GAO didn’t evaluate the benefits provided by sugar policy to users – including having a domestic supply chain the consumers prefer. In a nationwide poll conducted by Morning Consult, U.S. consumers preferred domestically sourced sugar to foreign sugar by a ratio of 8-to-1.”

The Southern Ag Today article underscores the necessity for a more balanced and comprehensive understanding of the U.S. sugar program. The insights from these farm policy experts spotlight critical research studies overlooked by the GAO including: How does the financial performance of sugar-using firms compare to other agribusinesses? An accounting and economic profit rates analysis; Factors Affecting Sugar-Containing-Product Prices; The impact of US sugar prices on the financial performance of US sugar-using firms; Economic Impact of the U.S. Sugar Industry; and the Sales and Costs of Confectionery Industries in North America.

The American Sugar Alliance is grateful that such respected farm policy experts as Professors DeLong, Deliberto, and Fischer have taken a critical look at U.S. sugar policy and have contributed to a more a balanced picture of farm policy and sugar production in the U.S.

Vince Smith’s Op-Ed in the Hill is False

Vince Smith’s op-ed in the Hill is based on a false premise and makes several main points that we’ve repeatedly debunked.

First, Smith’s op-ed and the GAO report both base their arguments on the false notion that global sugar markets are competitive and are not grossly distorted by foreign subsidization of sugar and ethanol sectors.  For example, GAO promotes the falsehood that Brazil does not subsidize its sugar sector. The report adopts the premise that comparing the U.S. market to the distorted world dump market for sugar can provide meaningful measures of consumer and producer costs and benefits.  That naïve premise causes incorrect conclusions about the U.S. sugar market, which have been repeatedly debunked.

Three examples include:

1.“American consumers pay twice as much” – False: Roughly 80% of the supply of sugar around the world is sold at a higher price than the ‘world price’ used in this comparison. The world market for surplus sugar is well below the world cost of production. The artificially depressed ‘world price’ is not the price paid for sugar by consumers in most countries.

2. “Only benefits 0.02 percent of farmers” – False: The U.S. sugar industry is comprised of 11,000 sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers, supports more than 151,000 jobs in over two dozen states, and contributes more than $23 billion to the economy. The sugar program ensures a strong and resilient domestic supply chain for sugar that provides just-in-time delivery of sugar to food companies and households.

3. “Shouldn’t blame food manufacturers” – False: Sugar producers do not blame our customers for a 33% increase in jobs in the U.S. confectionery industry, according to the U.S. Census. Nor do producers blame food companies for reporting record earnings to Wall Street. Yet, the op-ed itself acknowledges that food manufacturers have enjoyed increased revenues during this period of inflation while farmers’ margins are being squeezed by higher input costs  The op-ed and GAO fail to acknowledge all the ways in which having a domestic supply of an essential ingredient benefits food manufacturers.

Ultimately, we are disappointed that GAO published a one-sided report that does little to inform Congress as they deliberate the new Farm Bill.   We observe that the author of the op-ed and GAO continue to make the same mistakes as they have over the years. A main fault with their analysis lies in the assumption that one can compare a competitive U.S. market to a distorted world sugar market in order to develop measures of the costs and benefits of U.S. farm policy. Assuming that food companies will pass along savings to their consumers in the form of lower costs is similarly naïve and has been empirically debunked in the economics literature.

American Sugar Alliance Responds to Inaccuracies in GAO Sugar Report

“GAO continues to make major and obvious errors in their analysis of sugar policy and markets in the United States and in other countries to the detriment of American farm families and workers. We urge Congress to consider the facts, including that global sugar costs of production have routinely exceeded global sugar prices over the past 20 years, clearly evidencing a world sugar market distorted by heavily subsidized foreign sugar. Instead of relying on GAO’s flawed analysis that overlooks common sense and relies on an institutional bias against any policy that helps U.S. farm and ranch families of any commodity,” said Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance.

“It is also unfortunate that GAO’s report ignores the economic contributions of domestic sugar production to local communities, including more than 151,000 jobs and more than $23 billion in economic activity, as well as the serious harm done to these communities due to foreign subsidies that profoundly distort the global market and harm U.S. farm families. GAO continues to utilize old studies and estimates that have been discredited. More recent economic studies conclusively demonstrate that any savings from cheaper sugar to the big multinational corporations that buy and use sugar in their products are not passed to American consumers.  Instead, they add to the record profits of the users.”

When interviewed by GAO, the American Sugar Alliance pointed out the benefits provided by current U.S. sugar policy.

  •          The policy ensures a reliable and sustainable supply of sugar to American households and food companies that is delivered just-in-time to customers in the form that they need it. The strong and resilient U.S. sugar supply chain allows food companies to run their factories without pause or huge storage facilities, saving them hundreds of millions each year.
  •          The policy levels the playing field for American sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers and sugar factory workers who face unfair competition resulting from the distorted world sugar market.
  •          The policy supports American sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers, allowing them to continually increase productivity and to meet some of the highest labor and environmental standards in the world.
  •          The policy benefits U.S. consumers and food manufacturers by addressing an increasingly unstable and unpredictable global market, where other sugar-producing countries are restricting exports in order to protect their own consumers from food insecurity.
  •          The policy is designed to cost taxpayers $0. USDA and FAPRI show that over the next ten years, the program is expected to cost $0.  It has cost $0 over the past ten years.

U.S. sugar policy is supported by a large coalition of agricultural and stakeholder groups across America.

ASA remains committed to engaging in thoughtful discussions to ensure a well-informed approach to the future of the sugar industry, safeguarding both consumer interests and the vitality of American agriculture.

Sources: 

 

Press Release: American Sugar Alliance, Producer Groups, and Union Allies Across Agriculture Reject Reckless Anti-Sugar Anti-Farmer Amendment

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – In response to Representative Scott Perry’s anti-sugar policy amendment (#173) in the FY2024 agriculture appropriations package, American Sugar Alliance Chairwoman Cassie Bladow said: “Rep. Perry’s anti-sugar amendment threatens American farm families who provide Americans with a reliable, domestic sugar supply – risking 11,000 farmers, 151,000 jobs, and $23 billion in economic activity.”

Farmers, ranchers, and stakeholder groups across agriculture, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, American Association of Crop Insurers, American Soybean Association, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Farm Credit Council, Midwest Council on Agriculture, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cotton Council, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sorghum Producers, Plains Cotton Growers, Southwest Council of Agribusiness, South Carolina Peach Council, USA Rice Federation, U.S. Peanut Federation, and Western Peanut Growers Association, and unions, including the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, oppose Rep. Perry’s anti-sugar amendment. Rep. Perry’s anti-sugar amendment puts American agriculture production, domestic food security, and manufacturing jobs at risk.

Rep. Scott Perry’s anti-sugar amendment singles out hard-working American sugarcane and sugarbeet farm families and sugar workers, and puts in jeopardy the safety net provided to fight against predatory foreign trade practices, including subsidies that enable overproduction and dumping of sugar onto the global market below the cost of production.

Bottom line, Rep. Perry’s anti-sugar amendment harms U.S. farm families and undermines protection for taxpayers, while doing nothing to help consumers.

Press Release: National Poll Reveals Strong Support for the U.S. Sugar Industry   

For Immediate Release (September 18, 2023)

Washington, D.C. – In a national survey of 2,000 registered voters, Morning Consult found strong support for the U.S. sugar industry and recognition that it is an important part of the American economy and food security. An overwhelming majority, 94% of surveyed voters, recognize the vital role farmers play in the economy, and 86% of surveyed voters support sugar policy in the Farm Bill.

Chairwoman of the American Sugar Alliance, Cassie Bladow, commented on the findings, “The results of this national survey demonstrate the strong voter sentiment in favor of the U.S. sugar industry and the need for Congress to support our farmers and workers in the Farm Bill. Clearly, voters value domestic sugar production and don’t want to depend on foreign suppliers for an essential food ingredient.”

The survey found that the agriculture and farming industry had the highest support from respondents of U.S. industries surveyed, including oil and gas, technology, food and beverage manufacturing, prescription drugs, automotive, and tourism. The support was enjoyed across a wide political spectrum and geographic distribution.  Respondents shared positive sentiments for U.S. sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers and workers, and for sugar policy within the Farm Bill. Key takeaways include:

Americans Prefer American-Made Sugar

The majority of voters expressed a preference for purchasing American-made sugar over imported sugar by a margin of 8 to 1. Voters strongly view farmers as trustworthy. They value the high environmental, labor, and safety standards of the domestic sugar industry. This sentiment transcends political affiliations and geographical regions.

Americans Want to Reduce Dependency on Foreign Suppliers

The majority of voters believe that the domestic food supply should be less dependent on foreign suppliers. This sentiment transcends political affiliations and geographical regions.

Americans Support for Sugar Provisions in the U.S. Farm Bill 

Across political affiliations and geographic regions, the vast majority (86%) of voters emphasized the need for Congress to include provisions in the U.S. Farm Bill that adequately support the sugar industry—agreeing on the importance of keeping sugar affordable, ensuring a reliable supply, and protecting American farmers as reasons for their support.

 

About the Morning Consult Poll

Morning Consult provides comprehensive and unbiased research on critical issues facing the nation. The survey results provide valuable insights into voter sentiment ahead of the Farm Bill reauthorization process. Methodology:  This poll was conducted between June 26-June 28, 2023 among a sample of 2013 Registered Voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of Registered Voters based on gender by age, educational attainment, race, marital status, home ownership, race by educational attainment, 2020 presidential vote, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

 

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Morning Consult Poll Results

Plenty of candy available for 2023 Trick-or-Treat

The American Sugar Alliance submitted the following Letter to the Editor in response to erroneous reporting on the sugar industry and sugar supply in America. WSJ declined to publish the response or fact-check their article.

The Wall Street Journal’s recent story – “Sugar Shortage Threatens Candy Production Ahead of Halloween, Holiday Seasons” (July 22) – invokes a scary image of candy rationing for America’s costumed trick-or-treaters this fall and potentially even worse, the thought of no candy canes hanging on our Christmas trees. The candy makers in your story would have your readers believe that the Grinch is either hardworking sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers or Congressional members who have steadfastly kept the Farm Bill safety net strong for U.S. agricultural production.

American farmers are among the most productive in the world and they meet some of the highest labor and environmental standards around. That productivity translates into more choices and more affordable food products for American households. Despite double-digit food inflation this past year, American households spend less of their disposable income on food than any other industrialized country. And the breadth of food choices available to American consumers is unmatched anywhere in the world.  

Sugar production in the U.S. is up, yields are higher, and the supply chain is strong. Candy companies benefit from just-in-time delivery of sugar from American sugar producers. Unlike the uncertain supply chains for other necessary food ingredients or manufacturing inputs, the current sugar program ensures a stable and reliable supply of sugar for our customers, from grocery stores to food companies. Globally, sugar supplies are tight and that might affect food companies overseas, however, within the United States, there is plenty of sugar.  This year’s total supply will exceed all demands by more than 3.5 billion pounds of sugar. That mountain of sugar will be available to our customers next year and will add to our ample expected imports and cane and beet production. 

Suffice it to say that the market will ensure that there is plenty of sugar around for making as much candy as is needed for Halloween preparation and for all the other holidays this year.

 

Rob Johansson, PhD, Director of Economics & Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance and former USDA Chief Economist.

38th International Sweetener Symposium Highlights the Strength and Resilience of American Sugar Producers

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.”

 

 

Bipartisan Leaders of the House and Senate Support Sugar Policy in the Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. – Members of Congress – including the leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture – reiterated their support for strong U.S. sugar policy in the upcoming Farm Bill during the 38th International Sweetener Symposium held by the American Sugar Alliance.

The 22 members of Congress included Senators Stabenow (D-MI), Boozman (R-AR), Hoeven (R-ND), Klobuchar (D-MN), Smith (D-MN), Fischer (R-NE), Scott (R-FL), and Ricketts (R-NE), and Representatives Thompson (R-PA-15), Scott (D-GA-13), Costa (D-CA-21), Craig (D-MN-02), Cammack (R-FL-03), Finstad (R-MN-01), Caraveo (D-CO-08), McCollum (D-MN-04), Hinson (R-IA-02), Smith (R-NE-03), Kildee (D-MI-08), Fischbach (R-MN-08), Carter (D-LA-02), and Armstrong (R-ND-AL).

Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), noted her work to keep the sugar program strong in the 2018 Farm Bill and said, “Sugar is sweet, but its role in the economy and in communities across the country is even sweeter.” In writing the upcoming Farm Bill, she emphasized the need for “a strong coalition to defend the sugar program.”

Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator John Boozman (R-AR), shared a statement with the industry. “Sugar producers play a vital role in agriculture. I was recently in Wyoming and heard firsthand from producers in that state about some of the challenges they face. It is important to ensure the risk management tools available to producers are effective and affordable. That means investing in improvements to the farm safety net for our producers and our rural communities.”

Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Glenn GT Thompson (R-PA-15), said, “The sugar industry is a key player on my farm team.” He reiterated that “sugar’s impact on the agriculture industry and the overall economy is significant.” Chairman Thompson noted the challenges faced by producers over the past few years. “Our nation’s producers are stretched thin,” further highlighting “the need for a domestic food supply.” On the Farm Bill, Chairman Thompson said, “Making improvements to commodity programs and crop insurance is a key priority of mine” so that farmers have “a safety net that they can rely upon when times get tough.” “If we get this right, not only are we doing right by producers but also by taxpayers who are footing the bill.”

The Ranking Member on the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. David Scott (D-GA-13), stated his support for the sugar policy. “I strongly support the sugar program and the sustainability it provides to growers of beet and cane sugar… [Sugar policy] is designed to help level the playing field at zero cost to the Federal government.”

Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, and senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), asserted, “USDA needs to always remember that U.S. sugar policy exists to help domestic sugar farmers and their processors. It is not there to boost foreign producers that dump on the global market and don’t meet the same safety and environmental standards that U.S. farmers meet every single day.” On the Farm Bill, Senator Hoeven noted he is working on “crafting the strongest Farm Bill possible for our producers” to “improve and strengthen the farm safety net.”

Senate Agriculture Committee member Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) stated that “protecting the [sugar] program’s integrity is among my top priorities for the Farm Bill.” The Senator thanked sugar producers for all they do to make sure consumers and food manufacturers have reliable and responsibly grown sugar.

Chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade, Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), recognized that “sugar producing and processing is a cornerstone of American agriculture.” She noted she is “pushing to ensure the core farm programs work for American producers – including protecting the sugar program.”

Senate Agriculture Committee member Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) reiterated her support for sugar producers – especially in her state – and shared her goals for the upcoming Farm Bill. “I’m working to craft a [Farm] Bill that creates stronger safety nets, improves access to precision agriculture technologies, and improves disaster relief.”

Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) emphasized his support for this vital industry. Understanding that farmers are facing difficult times, he told the group that “there’s no time like the present” to provide relief in the Farm Bill.

Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) noted that “sugarbeets have played a critical role in the development of Nebraska’s panhandle” and assured the sugar industry that “ensuring the strength of our agricultural sector is essential for our economy because food security is national security. I am committed to passing a Farm Bill that reflects those priorities.”

House Agriculture Committee member and farmer Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA-21) recognized that “sugar is an important industry because food is a national security issue.” Congressman Costa said U.S. producers are the best. “We (American farmers) can compete with anyone in the world if there’s a level playing field and it’s fair.”

House Agriculture Committee member Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-02) noted that sugar policy is a top priority for her in the Farm Bill. “As sugar farmers and producers, your work helps feed families and fuel the economy – and you deserve a Farm Bill that helps you sustain and grow your operations. That’s exactly what I’ll be fighting for this year.”

House Agriculture Committee member and farmer Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fl-03) spoke on the importance of defending sugar policy and reminded sugar producers of what’s at stake. “We’ve got one shot every five years to hold together the most critical industry in the U.S…We have to talk about food security as national security.”

House Agriculture Committee member and farmer Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN-01) stated his number one priority in the upcoming Farm Bill is “making sure that it is written by farmers and for farmers, by rural America for rural America. Food and farm security is national security – and defending a strong American sugar policy is critical to this equation.”

House Agriculture Committee member Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-CO-08) gave her full support for the industry. “I’m a proud advocate for domestic sugar production on the House Agriculture Committee.” She gave thanks to “the tireless work of our sugar farmers, processors, refiners, suppliers, and workers [to feed] our families every day. It’s not only vital to our economy but our everyday life.”

House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) emphasized her support for Minnesota sugarbeet farmers and the overall domestic sugar industry. As a leader on the House Appropriations Committee, she is “ready to fight back against deep cuts that would harm our farmers and producers who are the backbone of our food system and help keep our economy strong.”

House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA-02) told sugar producers she is fighting to ensure the competitiveness of American producers. “Title I provides critical tools that we can use to protect food security and also the health of our rural communities…I am committed to elevating farmers’ priorities and perspectives to craft bipartisan policies.”

House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE-03) is proud of the long history of sugar production in his state, noting that “Nebraska sugarbeet production has continued to support the state and local economies thanks to your hard work.” Rep. Smith assured sugar producers that he knows the Farm Bill is of interest and his door “is always open” to hear from the industry.

House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI-08) emphasized that American sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers and related jobs are “under attack from unfair competition and foreign interests,” and Congress must maintain the sugar program to “ensure fair competition between our growers and imports from abroad.” Rep. Kildee told attendees, “I’ll continue to fight for our growers against those efforts to gut the sugar program so that we can protect the growers and jobs across America.”

House Ways and Means Committee and Rules Committee member Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN-07) said, “The sugar industry is vital to the communities across my district and across the country.” The Congresswoman is proud to represent the largest sugarbeet-growing district in the nation. Rep. Fischbach assured sugar producers that she is closely tracking the Farm Bill renewal, saying she is “fighting for sugar producers and a strong suite of farm programs when the Farm Bill moves forward in the fall.”

Rep. Troy Carter (D-LA-02) said passing the Farm Bill is one of his top priorities this year. “I’m working to ensure the Farm Bill doesn’t just pass, but it has the sugar industry’s interests in mind and in the forefront.” Rep. Carter thanked the sugar industry, noting, “Not only are you supporting workers, manufacturers, and business – but you’re benefiting the American economy and people.”

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND-AL) thanked the North Dakota sugar industry for providing thousands of jobs. “The sugar industry is incredibly important – not just important to our economy [in North Dakota] but to the ag economy as a whole.” He thanked sugar producers for “keeping our food sweet and tasting fantastic.”

American Sugar Alliance Chairwoman and President of the U.S. Beet Sugar Association Cassie Bladow thanked the members of Congress for addressing the industry’s annual Symposium. “We’re encouraged by your leadership and strong support for sugar policy. Thank you for appreciating our family farmers’ role as job creators and economic drivers in urban and rural communities across the country. We’re proud of our work to keep U.S.-made sugar on grocery shelves and provide timely delivery of sugar to U.S. food manufacturers.”

USDA Reiterates Support for American Sugar Producers

WASHINGTON D.C. – At the 38th International Sweetener Symposium, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), Gloria Montaño Greene thanked sugar producers for collaborating on climate smart agriculture while acknowledging the numerous challenges sugar producers face.

Deputy Under Secretary Montaño Greene assured the industry 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.”

Montaño Greene oversees the USDA’s sugar loan program as well as the disaster relief and risk-management programs critical to American farmers – including sugarbeet and sugarcane producers.

U.S. sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers are navigating increasingly uncertain weather and market conditions. While sugarbeets and sugarcane are resilient, effective risk management tools are essential given the exposure to hurricanes, freezes, and frequent and more intense droughts and excess rainfall.

At the Symposium, the Deputy Under Secretary thanked sugar producers for “the work you do and your engagement with USDA. You’re not afraid of difficult conversations and we appreciate our partnership.”

Montaño Greene thanked the sugar industry for their work on USDA’s Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities, noting that, “the program benefits from the input of early adopters of climate-smart practices,” including sugar producers. She also noted the opportunities available to the industry in the Inflation Reduction Act and the conservation funds available at Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Moderating the panel, incoming American Sugar Alliance Chairwoman Cassie Bladow thanked USDA and Deputy Under Secretary Montaño Greene for the Department’s support of sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers and workers. “We appreciate USDA’s partnership in ensuring domestic sugar producers have adequate resources – whether that’s loans, disaster relief, or risk management tools. We rely on the talented leadership and experienced staff at FPAC to impartially administer those programs. Thank you Deputy Under Secretary Montaño Greene. Together we can ensure Americans have access to a reliable and affordable supply of sugar.”

 

Congresswoman Hinson Tells American Sugar Industry: We Must Strengthen the Farm Safety Net  

Washington, D.C. – In a keynote address at the 38th International Sweetener Symposium, Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-IA-02) spoke to the importance of the 2023 Farm Bill and strengthening the safety net for all American farmers – including U.S. sugarbeet and sugarcane growers.

Congresswoman Hinson told sugar producers, “Title I provides critical tools that we can use to protect food security and also the health of our rural communities… I am committed to elevating farmers’ priorities and perspectives to craft bipartisan policies.”

Congresswoman Hinson proudly represents the second district in Iowa. She understands agriculture is the heart of the U.S. economy. As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Representative Hinson advocates for policies that sustain the farm economy and provide farmers with resources they need to keep growing and producing. In Congress, she is highly regarded by her colleagues and is viewed as a common-sense leader, pursuing pro-growth policies, for Iowans and all Americans.

The Iowan emphasized her work to ensure Congress invests in the competitiveness of American producers. One way Rep. Hinson is doing that is by championing precision agriculture and innovation in the PRECISE Act.

“Our sugar producers appreciate the work Congresswoman Hinson is doing to grow the American farm economy for all of us,” said American Sugar Alliance Chairman Ryan Weston. “Our domestic sugar producers support jobs in over two dozen states. Americans across the country – including Iowans – benefit from having a reliable domestic supply chain for sugar.”

Congressman Costa Thanked American Sugar Producers for their Role in Ensuring Food Security

Washington, D.C. – “Sugar is an important industry because food is a national security issue,” Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA-21) told sugar producers at the 38th International Sweetener Symposium.

 

The California congressman emphasized the importance of family farmers – including American sugar producers – to ensuring food security. When it comes to trade, Congressman Costa stated U.S. producers are the best. “We (American farmers) can compete with anyone on the world if there’s a level playing field and it’s fair.”

 

Congressman Costa understands agriculture on a personal level. As a third-generation family farmer who was raised on a dairy farm, Costa’s experience has allowed him to combine his farming background and public service. He has represented the San Joaquin Valley in Congress for almost two decades.

 

The Congressman serves as a senior Democratic member on the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. He is the Ranking Member of the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Subcommittee and a member of the Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development Subcommittee. Additionally, he is a member and past Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, where he helps create bipartisan support for many legislative initiatives, including agriculture.

 

Jeff Rustvang, Vice President for Government Affairs, Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative which includes Spreckels Sugar Company in California, thanked Congressman Costa for his remarks. “U.S. sugar producers are proud to be a part of California’s agriculture economic engine. Thank you for understanding how important it is to keep our domestic supply chain strong. We are confident that Congress can pass a strong, bipartisan Farm Bill that supports American producers and ensures the future of our agriculture system. For us, having a strong sugar policy in the Farm Bill is key.”

 

 

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Congresswoman Cammack Champions Sugar Producers in Keynote Address  

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – American Sugar Alliance Chairman Ryan Weston kicked off the 38th International Sweetener Symposium with a keynote address from Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-FL-03).

“It’s great to bring the industry together to discuss the issues sugarcane and sugarbeet farmers are facing and hear from members of Congress on the importance of sugar policy in the Farm Bill,” said ASA Chairman Weston. “We all know the Farm Bill is incredibly important, so we are honored to have Congresswoman Kat Cammack of Florida, here today. She is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and a friend to sugar producers across the country.”

On the Farm Bill, Congresswoman Cammack emphasized, “We’ve got one shot every five years to hold together the most critical industry in the U.S…We have to talk about how food security is national security.”

She encouraged sugar producers to be involved in educating members of Congress on the importance of sugar policy. “We need to be ready to go – ready to fight – to defend sugar policy,” said Congresswoman Cammack. “Sugar is unique in that it has a great regional representation – sugarbeets up north to sugarcane in the South.”

Congresswoman Kat Cammack proudly serves Florida’s Third Congressional District. As the lone Florida Republican on the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, the Congresswoman has proven to be a true advocate for agriculture. Rep. Cammack defends Florida’s farmers, ranchers, and producers, and understands the challenges they face with rising input costs, disasters, and continually shrinking margins.

Addressing Congresswoman Cammack, ASA Chairman Weston thanked her for joining the Symposium as a keynote speaker. “You have been a staunch champion for sugar producers on the Hill. Thank you for your work to preserve our family farms – especially your bipartisan Zero-for-Zero resolution with Representative Kildee to protect domestic producers against unfair trading practices in the global sugar market.”

The Zero-for-Zero resolution was reintroduced in the 118th Congress with the following members as original co-sponsors: Reps. Cammack (R-FL-03), Kildee (D-MI-8), Letlow (R-LA-5), Franklin (R-FL-18), Higgins (R-LA-3), Finstad (R-MN-1), and Fischbach (R-MN-7).

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A Toast to the Sweetest Farmers in Ag!

American Sugar Alliance Congratulates Xochitl Torres Small on Her Senate Confirmation as USDA Deputy Secretary

America’s sugar farmers and workers congratulate Xochitl Torres Small on her appointment as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Secretary.

“Throughout her career, Under Secretary Torres Small has been a champion for American farmers, workers, and rural communities – including those supported by the U.S. sugar industry. We’re confident in her ability to work with producers to increase U.S. agricultural productivity and strengthen domestic food security,” said Ryan Weston, Chairman of the American Sugar Alliance.

The U.S. Sugar Industry is comprised of 11,000 sugarbeet and sugarcane family farmers and supports 151,000 good-paying jobs

Contrary to the narrative on iHeartMedia’s Big Sugar Podcast, in America, 11,000 sugarbeet and sugarcane family farmers support 151,000 jobs across more than two dozen states. Our industry is 100% farmer-, employee-, and family- owned. All of the sugar industry pays fair wages and offers good benefits to their workers. Sugar planting and harvesting is high-tech and nearly 100% mechanized. Sugarbeet processors and cane refineries employ 100% union skilled labor. We provide high quality sugar to American consumers everyday — even throughout the pandemic.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Sugar Policy Supports American Farm Families and Blue-Collar Jobs Says Minnesota Farmer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

May 2, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Today, Neil Rockstad, a sugarbeet farmer from Ada, Minnesota, testified before the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade.

On behalf of the American Sugar Alliance, he thanked Chairwoman Tina Smith (D-MN) and Ranking Member Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) for listening to the needs of American producers as they craft the next Farm Bill.

Rockstad highlighted the strengths of the domestic sugar industry and reiterated the concern shared by all Title I commodities that the safety net needs to be updated to reflect the realities and conditions farmers are facing. “The safety net must be increased in this Farm Bill for long term stability to provide secure supplies for American consumers.”

As Senator Smith noted, farmers are “the center of our economy, our food system, and our national security.” This sentiment was echoed by other members of the committee and the farmers testifying. In addition, Rockstad reminded lawmakers that “Sugar was readily available on grocery store shelves throughout the pandemic. That success is attributable to U.S. sugar policy and the heroic efforts of our farmers and factory workers.”

“Many of the jobs and businesses generated and supported by the U.S. sugar industry are in rural areas and urban areas where good blue-collar jobs have become harder and harder to find. As an industry, we are proud to provide high-paying good jobs in our communities,” said Rockstad. “In my home state of Minnesota, the sugarbeet industry provides almost 21,000 jobs and has a $3.06 billion economic impact.” Sugarbeet farmers are proud to be a part of the $16 billion in value for Minnesota, which Senator Smith spoke about in her opening remarks.

As the committee considers how to write a Farm Bill that is tailored to meet the needs of American farmers, ranchers, and producers in every part of the country, Rockstad urged lawmakers to support the 11,000 American sugarbeet and sugarcane family farmers and the employees in our mills, processors, and refineries.

It bears repeating that “effective sugar policy, which maintains a strong domestic industry, is essential to the food security of our nation.”

Read Neil Rockstad’s full testimony.

PRESS RELEASE: Sugar Farmers Urge Members of Congress to Support American Farmers and Workers for Food Security  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

April 26, 2023 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Patrick Frischhertz, a sugarcane grower from Plaquemine, Louisiana testified before the House Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit. He thanked Chairman Austin Scott (R-GA-8) and Ranking Member Shontel Brown (D-OH-11) for listening to the needs of American producers as they craft the next Farm Bill.  

On behalf of the American Sugar Alliance, Frischhertz called on lawmakers to ensure “Title I sugar policy…provide[s] an adequate economic safety net for American sugarcane and sugarbeet farmers.” Without sugar policy, “we would effectively outsource our sugar supply to heavily-subsidized and unreliable foreign sugar suppliers whose environmental and labor standards simply do not measure up to our own. That would be the opposite of strengthening supply chains and contrary to providing a safety net to American producers. Under that scenario, farmers, consumers, and taxpayers would all lose.” 

He reminded the subcommittee of the vital role sugar producers play in the nation’s food supply by ensuring American consumers have “a safe, high-quality, reliable, sustainably produced and affordable supply of an essential ingredient.” He also underscored the effectiveness of U.S. sugar policy that serves Americans at “no cost to the U.S. Treasury.”  

Frischhertz spoke on the challenges sugar producers face from high input costs, tight margins, and crop and weather disruptions. He urged the members to examine “how the farm safety net could be updated in the next Farm Bill for all Title I commodities to better match actual operating costs for producers,” and gave sugar producers’ support for the subcommittee’s interest in developing additional risk management programs to complement crop insurance. “We are certainly receptive to new efforts to provide standing disaster coverage in ways that do not undermine crop insurance and possibly even encourage greater participation and coverage levels.” 

As this subcommittee considers how to write a Farm Bill that meets the needs of our producers and the American people, Frischhertz urged lawmakers to support the 11,000 American sugarcane and sugarbeet family farmers and the employees in our mills, processors, and refineries. 

It bears repeating that “effective sugar policy, which maintains a strong domestic industry, is essential to the food security of our nation.” 

Read Patrick Frischhertz’s full testimony.

Sugar Farmers: Stakes Have Never Been Higher

If we value a strong food supply, we need America and Congress to continue supporting our farmers, now and in the future.”

The Hill recently published an op-ed from North Dakota sugarbeet farmer Jason Schatzke and Texas sugarcane farmer Lance Neuhaus, detailing how increasing costs threaten their farms and our nation’s food security. The challenges faced by Jason, Lance, and thousands of other farmers across the country underscore the importance of federal farm policies. They wrote:

“Like all of America’s farmers, we’re willing to do what it takes to get the job done and feed people across our nation. But as the number of farmers in America continues to dwindle, we need to take our food security seriously, especially as other nations are confronted by growing food scarcity and hunger.

“The past few years have dealt agriculture some heavy blows, but thanks to the stability provided by federal farm policies and a sugar policy that costs taxpayers nothing, we have been able to navigate these challenges — so far.”

Many American sugar farmers will soon be headed into the fields to harvest the sugar crops that supply American households, restaurants, and food manufacturers with high-quality, affordable sugar, grown and produced under some of the world’s most rigorous environmental and labor standards. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of sugar farmers and workers, Americans enjoy an ample supply of sugar. Anyone can walk into a grocery store and find sugar on the shelf.

Yet, even as growers like Jason and Lance are hard at work in the fields, Big Candy is taking aim at American farmers. It’s a bitter blame game to be playing when it’s our food security on the line.

“When a $1.50 candy bar contains only roughly $0.02 cents worth of sugar, it’s clear that blaming sugar farmers for the double-digit inflation for confectionary products is a bitter attempt to deflect attention from the fact that corporate candy companies are thriving while farmers are hurting,” said Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance (ASA).

American confectioners posted $36.9 billion in retail sales in 2021, with National Confectioners Association President and CEO John Downs calling it “one of the best years that this industry has experienced.”

Meanwhile, the unjustified war that Russia is waging against Ukraine and the sporadic and volatile Chinese responses to COVID-19 have severely impacted energy and fertilizer costs and continue to disrupt containerized shipping patterns, raising prices on all commercial goods. And that includes the inputs needed to plant, harvest, and refine sugar.

Despite these challenges, based on estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there will be more than 1.8 million tons of sugar on hand as of September 30, with more than 3.5 million tons of sugar imports expected next year, which will start arriving in October. As harvest begins, sugar producers will soon begin refining and delivering additional sugar into the market.

American Sugar Alliance Applauds Confirmation of Doug McKalip as USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance on the confirmation of Doug McKalip as the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Chief Agricultural Negotiator:

“America’s sugar farmers and workers congratulate Doug McKalip on his confirmation as USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator,” said Ryan Weston, Chairman of the American Sugar Alliance. “Ambassador McKalip will tirelessly enforce our global trading rules and expertly advocate for America’s farmers. With the global sugar market more dysfunctional than ever, we are confident that Ambassador McKalip’s steady leadership will help create a fairer global economy.”

American Sugar Alliance Congratulates Alexis Taylor on her appointment as USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs

The American Sugar Alliance congratulates Alexis Taylor on her Senate confirmation to serve as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.

“As Under Secretary, Alexis Taylor brings to USDA unparalleled expertise, deft leadership, and a comprehensive understanding of the issues driving American agriculture and trade,” said Ryan Weston, Chairman of the American Sugar Alliance. “Through her decades of policymaking and legislative experience in agriculture, Under Secretary Taylor has demonstrated that she understands how essential America’s sugar farmers and skilled workers are to maintaining a robust and reliable food supply chain. We are confident that she will ensure our trade policies are fair to, and supportive of, American agriculture.”

Senate Communicator Joins American Sugar Alliance as Director of Communications

Today, the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) announced Lillie Zeng as its new Director of Communications.

Ms. Zeng was most recently Press Secretary for Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Prior to her time on the Hill, Ms. Zeng spent a decade at the Department of Agriculture where she held various roles as a public policy expert and strategic communications advisor for marketing and regulatory programs. She received her undergraduate degree from New York University and her graduate degree from Georgetown University, and grew up around agriculture in the “salad bowl” of the United States – Salinas, CA.

“We are so excited to have Lillie join the sugar family,” said Ryan Weston, ASA’s chairman. “American’s sugar producers are essential in order to provide a key ingredient for our food supply. As Director of Communications, Lillie will help us elevate the stories of our hardworking sugar farmers that provide food security for our nation and ensure their voices are heard in Washington.”

Sugarbeet Scientist Testifies on Sustainability Advances in Conventional Agriculture

Conventional agriculture has paved the way for farmers to make rapid advancements in protecting and promoting soil health, Dr. Rebecca Larson, Chief Scientist for the Western Sugar Cooperative, testified before the House Agriculture Committee, today. “The evolution of conventional ag practices has reduced soil erosion by 35% across the U.S.,” Dr. Larson told Congress. “Soil health is critical for farmers. It reduces crop inputs, increases crop productivity, and instills resiliency in the agroecosystem.”  

Dr. Larson expounded upon data collected from the 800 small family farmer-owners who farm sugarbeets and collectively own the Western Sugar Cooperative. In order to ensure soil health and sustainably grow sugar, Western Sugar Cooperative growers focus on: 

  • Conservation tillage: Most Western Sugar Cooperative growers use conservation tillage, improving microbial diversity and adding other environmental benefits. 
  • Cover crops: Fall-seeded cover crops, spring-planted rye, and the previous year’s crop residue are all used by Western Sugar Cooperative growers, depending on each grower’s circumstances, to protect their soil. 
  • Conservation crop rotation: All Western Sugar Cooperative growers engage in conservation crop rotation to balance nutrient demands and protect biodiversity.  
  • Genetically engineered sugarbeets: All of the U.S. sugarbeet crop is genetically modified, requiring less tillage and fewer pesticide applications. 

Armed with these tools, sugarbeet farmers in the Western Sugar Cooperative have reduced erosion by 90%, reduced pesticide usage by 40%, reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, and increased water use efficiency by 30%. Importantly, farmers have increased yield from 8,000 to more than 11,000 pounds of sugar per acre, an achievement that Dr. Larson called “true sustainable intensification.” 

The U.S. sugar industry has preserved our natural resources, family farms, and rural communities for generations to come. Overall, U.S. sugar farmers produce 16% more sugar on 11% less land than they did 20 years ago.  

As Congress considers the next Farm Bill, Dr. Larson urged members to “invest in outcome-based solutions that keep the farmer in the driver’s seat, as they understand the nuance of their production system.” As dedicated stewards of the land, U.S. sugar producers continue to advocate for voluntary climate-smart policies that allow farmers to achieve their climate goals. 

Learn more about how Western Sugar Cooperative and the entire U.S. sugar industry is executing on its commitment to produce Sugar Sustainably 

Key Senators Urge USDA to Support Sugar Policy, U.S. Sugar Producers Praise Bipartisan Letter

Key U.S. senators urged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to “reject proposals that would weaken U.S. sugar policy and jeopardize our nation’s food security,” in a letter sent Friday. The bipartisan letter was led by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and signed by a total of 12 senators, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Backed by a strong U.S. sugar policy, America’s sugar farmers and workers help provide the U.S. with an ample supply of high-quality, affordable sugar, grown and produced under some of the world’s most rigorous environmental and labor standards. 

“For decades, sugar supplies have met domestic demand through sugarbeet and sugarcane production and imported raw and refined supplies.  U.S. processors and refiners maintain stocks on hand to meet demands, and to ensure that carryover stocks are adequate during sugarbeet and sugarcane harvests,” the senators wrote. “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own measures, today, the U.S. sugar market is adequately supplied.” 

The senators also praised the resiliency of the U.S. sugar industry, noting that “[rising] input costs, especially for fertilizer and diesel fuel, along with a labor shortage in the transportation industry, have significantly increased the cost of production for our sugar growers. Despite these current challenges, thanks to U.S. sugar policy, our sugar supply chain remains resilient and in a strong position to address future challenges.”  

Sugarbeet growers Jeff Olson of Colfax, ND, and Rick Gerstenberger of Snover, MI, and sugarcane growers Ardis Hammock of Moore Haven, FL, and Gary Gravois of Napoleonville, LA, thanked the senators for their ongoing support for family farmers. 

“We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Hoeven, Chairwoman Stabenow, and their colleagues, in standing up for farmers and our food security. We are proud to grow America’s sugar crops and play an essential role in maintaining a robust Made-in-America food supply. After a challenging year on many of our farms, we can head into harvest confident in knowing that U.S. sugar policy has strong bipartisan support.” 

A recent op-ed authored by North Dakota sugarbeet farmer Jason Schatzke and Texas sugarcane farmer Lance Neuhaus detailed how increasing costs and efforts to undermine U.S. sugar policy threaten their farms and our nation’s food security. U.S. sugar policy supports family farms and more than 151,000 jobs across the country and is designed to cost taxpayers nothing.  

USDA Under Secretary: Opportunity for U.S. Agriculture to be Hero on Climate Change

America’s farmers have an opportunity to be “a real hero in our ability to address climate change” through improvements in productivity and climate-smart practices, but a successful climate program “has to work for agriculture.” 

That was the message shared by Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), at the 37th International Sweetener Symposium yesterday. 

Bonnie outlined USDA’s approach to addressing climate change through building broad, collaborative partnerships across agriculture.  

“There’s so much diversity in agriculture,” Bonnie said, “that the approach to climate change can’t be one that dictates practices for low and high. It has to be modern. It has to be producer-led. It has to allow farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to choose which practices work best for them, and then provides incentives for them to do that.” 

Initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must recognize the critical role American farmers play in producing a global supply of food and fiber.   

“We have to reduce emissions even while we maintain and enhance productivity. We’ve got to feed 9.5 plus billion people in the world by the middle of the century,” Bonnie explained. “U.S. agriculture is really good at productivity, and it’s really good at efficiency. That’s why I’m optimistic about the ability of U.S. farmers and U.S. forest land owners to be able to address climate change.” 

Thanks in part to strong federal farm policies, U.S. sugarcane and sugarbeet farmers continually invest in new research, technologies, and techniques to boost efficiency and protect our planet. U.S. sugar farmers produce 16 percent more sugar today on 11 percent less land compared to 20 years ago – and they’ve increased yield per acre by 30 percent while using fewer inputs.  

U.S. sugar producers continue to expand on this work and, as part of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA), support voluntary and incentive-based conservation programs that promote resilience in rural communities. 

Uncertainty in the farm economy has presented new risks for U.S. sugar producers. In addition to farm and trade policies that help level the global playing field, U.S. sugar farmers and workers need the Farm Bill to provide a strong safety net and affordable risk management tools. 

Bonnie emphasized the importance of crop insurance as a risk management tool, saying, “crop insurance is critically important for so many folks in agriculture.” He noted that there are ways to increase crop insurance accessibility while improving the products available to farmers. 

U.S. sugar producers are committed to a more sustainable future. A strong Farm Bill that preserves sound U.S. sugar policy and addresses the increased challenges facing farm producers will further this mission while protecting U.S. food production, preserving good American jobs, and supporting the local communities who rely on a vibrant U.S. sugar industry.  

Meet America's Sugar Producers

America’s Sweetest Industry Supports 151,000 Jobs, $23 Billion Economic Impact

America’s sugar farming families and workers support more than 151,000 jobs across more than two dozen states and contribute more than $23 billion to the economy each year, according to a new study from the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University. This study highlights America’s sweetest industry, underscoring the critical importance of maintaining domestic sugar production by supporting strong farm and trade policies.  

“Sugar is a fundamental building block of the food we eat, and sugar production provides good paying jobs and local support that make it the backbone of many communities throughout the United States,” said Dr. Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance. “This report demonstrates how U.S. sugar policy supports America’s sugar farmers and workers, allowing them to maintain a safe, reliable, and affordable supply of sugar that touches all of us.” 

The study, titled “Economic Impact of the U.S. Sugar Industry,” is authored by renowned agricultural economists Dr. Bart Fischer and Dr. Joe Outlaw. Drs. Fischer and Outlaw analyzed production levels and prices for the sugarcane and sugarbeet industries and profiled six growing regions to illustrate the ground-level impact of the industry. 

Among the report’s findings: 

  • Sugar production in America has an annual economic impact of $23.3 billion. 
  • The sugar industry supports 151,238 direct and indirect jobs, an increase since a 2009 analysis. However, since 2009, several sugar producers have been driven out of business by increasing costs and relatively flat prices.  
  • Wages and benefits associated with these jobs total $5.7 billion annually, an increase of 37 percent from the 2009 report. 
  • Efficiency gains have increased production by 13 percent.  

State-by-state and crop-specific results are available in the full report.  

“America’s sugar producers remain some of the most efficient in the world and are executing on their commitment to produce sugar sustainably,” Johansson said. “In addition to helping keep us fed, the opportunities and well-paying jobs provided by the sugar industry drive the economy in both small towns and urban centers across America. This is a testimony to the stability and certainty provided by U.S. sugar policy – without costing taxpayers a cent.” 

The Texas A&M report comes as Congress begins debating the 2023 Farm Bill and as American sugarcane and sugarbeet farmers, like the rest of agriculture, face increasing pressures from rising input costs. 

“Rising input costs and shrinking production margins on our farms and in our factories pose a dire threat to the future of America’s sugar industry. Our family farmers are resilient, but they need sound federal farm policies to ensure that America isn’t left dependent on unreliable foreign producers for a critical food ingredient.”

America’s sugar producers encourage Congress to support this essential domestic industry by maintaining a strong sugar policy in the 2023 Farm Bill. 

Letter on Alexis Taylor’s Nomination to Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs

The American Sugar Alliance (ASA) sent a letter to U.S. Senate leadership expressing deep support for the nomination of Alexis Taylor to serve as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. ASA urges the U.S. Senate to swiftly consider and confirm Director Taylor. In our current uncertain global climate, having an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs as qualified and knowledgeable as Taylor will be invaluable to all of American agriculture.

 

Read the full letter here.

American Sugar Alliance Testifies on Importance of Farmers, Farm Bill

Dr. Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance (ASA), testified before the House Committee on Agriculture today on the importance of supporting America’s sugar farmers, producers, and sugar supply chain by maintaining a strong U.S. sugar policy in the 2023 Farm Bill.

In his written testimony, Johansson outlined the strategic importance of American sugar production. The U.S. sugar industry generates more than 140,000 jobs and $20 billion in annual economic activity. In short, the U.S. sugar industry serves as the backbone of local economies in both rural and urban regions while keeping America supplied with an essential ingredient.

Over the past two years, Johansson pointed out, problems with global supply chains have made clear the danger of relying on uncertain foreign suppliers. “This is why an effective sugar policy, which maintains a strong domestic industry, is essential to the food security of our nation,” Johansson said.

Johansson thanked lawmakers for their bipartisan support of U.S. sugar policy, which, because it is based on loans repaid with interest, is designed to cost taxpayers nothing. This structure ensures U.S. sugar policy serves American farmers, consumers, food manufacturers, and taxpayers alike.

However, much like other agricultural sectors, sugar producers are feeling the pressure of rising production costs and inflation while loan rates for raw cane sugar and refined beet sugar have not kept pace. Johansson urged lawmakers to examine how the farm safety net could be updated to better reflect actual costs.

“Operating margins are being squeezed each year, due to rising labor, fuel, seed, fertilizer, equipment and interest rate costs that hit our producers in the field and at the factories they own. Having a loan rate that is closer to actual costs of production would provide a more effective safety net to our producers,” Johansson said.

Other farm safety net programs, such as crop insurance, are important for America’s sugar farmers, and could be improved upon to better meet the unique risk management needs of sugar crops.

Johansson also explained how farm and trade policies, and the strong enforcement measures put into place to uphold these policies, prevent our market from being flooded by heavily subsidized foreign sugar imported from the volatile world market. This sugar is normally sold well below the cost of production and is not produced under the same high standards as U.S.-made sugar.

“Our industry proudly meets some of the highest labor and environmental standards in the world, unlike many other large sugar producing countries. Moreover, using best practices and continuous improvement, our sector has made huge strides in sustainability,” Johansson said.

Johansson concluded his testimony by inviting lawmakers to visit sugar farms and processors throughout the country to see first-hand how U.S. sugar policy and the Farm Bill support America’s sugar farming families and workers, and the communities where they live and work.

U.S. Sugar Producers Propose WTO Reforms to Improve Transparency, Accountability

The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced earlier this week that trade ministers and negotiators from around the globe will convene the week of June 13 for its 12th Ministerial Conference. In support of these important negotiating efforts, the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) released a new policy statement outlining four recommendations to improve the international trade body’s effectiveness. 

WTO reforms will make dismantling unfair trade practices and subsidies an attainable goal, ASA noted, laying the foundation for a less distorted and more predictable global market.   

A recent WTO dispute case finding the use of subsidies by mega sugar producer and exporter India to be inconsistent with its WTO commitments has served to starkly underscore the urgent need for reform. Despite the WTO’s findings that India vastly exceeded the allowable level of subsidies for its sugarcane producers and also employed WTO-illegal export subsidies, India has vowed to maintain its market-distorting policies as it pursues the WTO appeal process.   

This is a glaring example of the current dysfunction at the WTO that has hindered real reform in the global sugar market. With the Biden Administration’s stated goal of “enforcing global agricultural trade rules” in defense of America’s farmers and food manufacturers, ASA believes now is the time to act. ASA proposes the following reforms:  

  • Accountability. Impose more rigorous disciplines on the practice of members’ self-designation of “developing country” status and the accompanying application of “special and differential” treatment. 
  • Modernization. Update the methodology by which countries measure levels of government support. The current methodology is based on commodity prices during an arbitrary three-year period in the 1980s.  
  • Transparency. Improve the transparency, timeliness, and, importantly, the accuracy of country notifications relating to domestic support and export subsidies.  
  • Enforcement. Overhaul the dispute settlement mechanism to ensure that, if necessary, a member’s noncompliance with established obligations can be addressed in a timely manner. 

 Sugar markets are widely considered to be the most distorted and volatile commodity markets in the world, with billions in foreign subsidies encouraging over production by inefficient producers,” said Dr. Rob Johansson, ASA’s Director of Economics and Policy Analysis. Unlike other countries, U.S. sugar farmers and workers produce a reliable supply of sugar under some of the world’s highest safety, labor, and environmental standards and at zero cost to taxpayers.  

“Implementing common-sense reforms can create a WTO that reflects 21st century realities,” said Luther Markwart, ASA’s chairman. “Our industry has long advocated for the verified elimination of all global sugar subsidies and a modernized WTO will place us one step closer to achieving that goal.” 

These reform proposals are also in alignment with the bipartisan Zero-for-Zero approach to eliminating foreign sugar subsidies, which was introduced in Congress last year and is supported by America’s sugar producers. 

Statement on the Passing of Congressman Jim Hagedorn

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance on the passing of Congressman Jim Hagedorn:

“We are saddened by the loss of Congressman Jim Hagedorn. He cared deeply about Minnesota and America. As part of a multi-generational farm family, Congressman Hagedorn knew intimately the challenges faced by America’s farmers. From his position on the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Hagedorn advocated for Minnesota’s sugarbeet farmers and was a friend to the entire sugar industry. We send our condolences to Congressman Hagedorn’s wife, Jennifer, his loved ones, and his constituents.”

WTO Dispute Panel Rules India’s Sugar Subsidies Out-of-Bounds

WASHINGTON – India’s sugar subsidy regime violates its obligations under a multilateral World Trade Organization agreement, according to the international trade body.

A WTO dispute panel initiated by Australia, Brazil and Guatemala in early 2019 investigated India’s massive sugar subsidy regime and found it was not compatible with New Delhi’s WTO commitments. The panel released its findings in a December 14 report.

India is one of the largest sugar producers in the world, producing more than 30 million tons of milled sugar in most years with the support of government production subsidies. India has also used export subsidies in recent years to help dump 6 to 7 million metric tons of sugar onto an already distorted and depressed world market, helping to drive world prices below the global cost of production.

The panel found that India’s provision of domestic support to its sugarcane producers vastly exceeds the level permitted under the terms of relevant provisions of the Agreement on Agriculture. The panel also found that New Delhi’s prolific use of export subsidies violates relevant provisions of both the Agreement on Agriculture and the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.

“India has not been playing by the rules for years to the detriment of other sugar producers,” said Dr. Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance (ASA). “This case focused on domestic sugar and export subsidies provided by India since 2014 and illustrates how much time these actions currently require to play out. We can now anticipate that India will use every procedural tool at its disposal in Geneva to drag the case out even longer.”

The world sugar market is widely considered to be the most distorted and volatile commodity market in the world, with billions in foreign subsidies encouraging over production. That surplus gets dumped on global markets – depressing prices. Unlike other countries, U.S. sugar farmers and workers produce a reliable supply of sugar under some of the world’s highest safety, labor and environmental standards and at zero cost to taxpayers.

“Our industry has long advocated for the verified elimination of all global sugar subsidies,” said Luther Markwart, Chairman of the ASA. “The panel’s finding in the India case serves as a stark reminder of just how far we have to go in achieving that objective.”

Univ. of Tennessee Study Rejects Candy Lobby’s Long-Held Accusations

WASHINGTON – Researchers from the University of Tennessee released a study today that sheds new light on how sugar prices affect sweetened product prices, and their findings stand in sharp contrast to decades-old claims made by candy company lobbyists.

Drs. Karen DeLong and Carlos Trejo-Pech, of the university’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, found that the retail cost of sweetened products, such as candy and baked goods, is not affected by the price that the food manufacturers pay for sugar. In fact, the researchers noted that sugar generally accounts for less than 2.6 percent of sweetened product prices.

“Sugar prices do not impact how food companies price their sweetened products in any statistically significant way, which ultimately reaffirms the fact that U.S. sugar policy does not harm sugar-using firms,” the authors concluded.

U.S. sugar policy involves loans that are repaid with interest instead of subsidy checks, which enable producers to store large amounts of sugar that can be delivered to customers when needed. The system operates without taxpayer cost.

“This study shows that there is little-to-no correlation between changes in sugar prices and the prices that grocery shoppers ultimately pay for sweet treats,” explained Rob Johansson, director of economics and policy analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, which commissioned the work.

“In other words, gutting U.S. sugar policy and outsourcing America’s sugar supply to subsidized companies abroad won’t yield positive results for U.S. consumers or food makers,” said Johansson, who previously served as chief economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “It will only harm American farmers and workers.”

This study is the second conducted by the University of Tennessee about U.S. sugar policy and prices. The first, an independent peer-reviewed piece that was published June 2020 in Agricultural and Food Economics, found that U.S. sugar prices did not harm the financial performance of food manufacturers.

Drs. Karen DeLong and Carlos Trejo-Pech are scheduled to present their findings at the 2022 Southern Agricultural Economics Association meeting.

Dr. Robert Johansson Takes on Director Role at American Sugar Alliance

Dr. Robert Johansson will help guide America’s sugar industry in his new role as the Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance (ASA), effective today. Johansson will provide domestic and international sugar market analysis and evaluate the farm and trade policies that affect U.S. sugar producers.

Johansson joined ASA in January 2021 as the Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis. Prior to joining ASA, Johansson was most recently Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), where he advised the Secretary of Agriculture, directed the analysis of commodities, and managed the designs of various USDA programs.

“Rob has quickly become an invaluable member of our team. He hit the ground running, leading efforts to reaffirm the importance of sugar’s strong domestic supply chain and document foreign sugar subsidies,” said Luther Markwart, ASA’s chairman. “As the Director of Economics and Policy Analysis, we know that Rob will continue his excellent work on behalf of America’s sugar producers.”

“America’s sugar growers and workers have welcomed me with open arms, and it is an honor to serve them in this new role,” Johansson said. “I look forward to working across the industry to continue advancing more sustainable and efficient sugar production and address any challenges that threaten the long-term survival of domestic sugarcane and sugarbeet production.”

Johansson succeeds veteran sugar economist Jack Roney. Roney retired on August 31, 2021, after 25 years with ASA.

Statement on the passing of former Congressman Paul Mitchell

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance on the passing of former Congressman Paul Mitchell:

Michigan’s sugarbeet producers and the rest of the U.S. beet and cane industry had a steadfast friend in former Congressman Paul Mitchell. During his time in Congress, he served America’s farmers with integrity and championed smart farm policies. We send our condolences to his loved ones as they mourn this incredible loss.

Sugar Producers Support New Legislation to Zero Out Harmful Foreign Sugar Subsidies

The American Sugar Alliance (ASA) supports new legislation introduced today by Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) and Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) which seeks to zero out the foreign subsidies that make sugar the world’s most distorted commodity market. This legislation levels the playing field and preserves family farms and good-paying jobs, while maintaining a strong and stable domestic supply chain for sugar.

This bill takes a Zero-for-Zero approach to sugar subsidies: only when all foreign countries eliminate their subsidies will the United States give up its existing no-cost sugar policy.

America’s sugar policy offers producers loans that are repaid with interest – not subsidy checks. It’s designed to cost taxpayers nothing.

Despite being among the most efficient and sustainable sugar producers in the world, America’s sugar growers cannot compete against billions of dollars in foreign subsidies. These subsidies drive down world prices for sugar on the global dump market to well below the world average cost of production.

“Time and again, the survival of American sugar producers is threatened by the unfair practices and dumping of cheap sugar by foreign countries. We have to protect our own supply and support the hardworking American sugar producers that bolster our rural communities,” said Cammack. “Free trade must also be fair trade, and we cannot abandon our own production capabilities in favor of cheap imports that destroy livelihoods and our markets. I’m proud to introduce this resolution that will ensure a level playing field and preserve family operations.”

“This bill calls foul on foreign sugar subsidies, finally giving American sugar farmers the opportunity to compete on a level playing field,” said Ardis Hammock, a sugarcane grower on a third-generation family farm in Florida. “Unilaterally eliminating America’s successful sugar policy could put our farms, our jobs, and our nation’s sugar supply at risk.”

“My farm has been in my family for 126 years, and we can only survive to farm for another 126 years if given a fair chance. Representatives Cammack, Kildee and Fischbach recognize the critical threat that foreign sugar subsidies pose to America’s sugar producers, and we appreciate their leadership in introducing this common-sense legislation,” said Daniel Younggren, a sugarbeet grower in Minnesota and President of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.

The Zero-for-Zero legislation specifically highlights Brazil, India, Thailand, the European Union, Russia, and Mexico for their egregious abuse of sugar subsidies. ASA has extensively catalogued the use of subsidies in these nations, most recently finding that Russia spent $392 million a year in direct and indirect subsidies to bolster its inefficient sugar industry. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence on the global scale.

Original co-sponsors of Zero-for-Zero include Reps. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Julia Letlow (R-La.), Garrett Graves (R-La.), and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).

Statement on Senate Passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance on Senate passage of the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act:

“Today’s overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate vote for the Growing Climate Solutions Act is a testament to the hard work of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.). As members of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance and dedicated stewards of the land, America’s sugar producers will continue to advocate for voluntary climate-smart policies that allow our farmers to achieve our climate goals.”

New Report Highlights Resiliency of America’s Sugar Supply Chain

America’s sugar supply chain proved resilient in the face of immense challenges in 2019 and 2020, in large part due to the stability provided by U.S. farm and trade policies, the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) stated in a report submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This report was developed by industry economists Jack Roney and Dr. Rob Johansson and provides an in-depth analysis of how the domestic sugar industry successfully responded to rapid shifts in consumer demand due to the COVID-19 global pandemic while dealing with the impact of a disastrous harvest. As Americans were sheltering in place during the pandemic, dining at restaurants and other commercial food outlets decreased sharply as Americans turned to dining at home.  This increase in home cooked meals translated to increased grocery store sales of sugar. The U.S. sugar industry responded to this dramatic change in the distribution supply chain to keep Americans well supplied. Moreover, no manufacturer was forced to close operations due to lack of sugar supplies.

That is because America benefits from a robust domestic sugar industry that supports 142,000 jobs in 22 states and produces high-quality sugar at an affordable price. More than 90 percent of the sugar consumed in the United States is either grown on 11,000 family farms or refined from raw sugar by American cane sugar refiners.

There are several factors that have contributed to the success of the domestic sugar supply chain:

  • The sugar industry is geographically diverse. Approximately half of America’s sugar production comes from sugarbeets, grown in 11 states, and sugarcane, grown in three states. These crops are processed in 45 mills, factories, and refineries across the country and sugar is distributed from 91 locations strategically located throughout the United States
  • The sugar industry is vertically integrated. The domestic sugar industry is largely structured as farmer-owned cooperatives. These cooperatives have made investments to respond efficiently to supply and demand challenges. The cooperative structure also allows producers to earn more of the food production dollar, supporting our vital rural communities.
  • The sugar industry is sustainable. Over the past 20 years, America’s sugar farmers have produced 16 percent more sugar on 11 percent less land while operating under some of the world’s highest environmental and labor standards.
  • The sugar industry is supported by successful farm and trade policies. America’s sugar policy ensures that we have the flexibility to respond to challenges and maintain a secure supply of sugar. All at no cost to taxpayers.

“Sugar is a critical good, and we are proud of the way that America’s sugar farmers and workers have always stepped up to keep America supplied with this sweet ingredient,” said Jack Pettus, ASA’s chairman. “A strong domestic sugar industry plays a key role in our national food security and contributes to the economic well-being of our rural and urban communities. It’s critical that the United States maintain the strength and integrity of the successful farm and trade policies that underpin a viable and resilient sugar supply chain.”

Please click here to review the full report provided to the USDA.

New Study Pulls Back the Curtain on Russian Sugar Industry Transformation

Russia’s sugar industry has made an unparalleled and unexpected transformation from one of the world’s biggest sugar importers, relying on foreign sugar for up to 80 percent of its needs as recently as 2003, to a net exporter of sugar. Little has been documented about Russia’s rapid rise until today, when the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) released a report, “Russia’s Sugar Industry: Transformation with Government Intervention,” authored by sugar experts from the region.

The report, authored by Patrick H. Chatenay and Sergey Gudoshnikov, not only details how Russia engineered this sudden shift in sugar production, but why the government sought to regenerate its domestic sugar industry. Chatenay, based in the United Kingdom, is a renowned expert on the global sugar market and Gudoshnikov, a Russia native, was Senior Economist for the International Sugar Organization in London for 31 years.

Since its inception, the Russian Federation has placed a high priority on domestic food security. Reducing Russia’s dependence on foreign sugar took on increased urgency as long-time supplier Cuba’s sugar market collapsed. Russia was forced to rely on the uncertain, unreliable and volatile global sugar market, which is widely considered to be the most distorted commodity market in the world as rampant global subsidization has led to overproduction and predatory pricing.

That pricing drove Russia to control and limit subsidized imports and utilize direct and indirect subsidies to bolster its own inefficient sugar industry. The report released today by ASA found that over the past decade, the Russian government utilized a number of tactics to regenerate domestic production, including:

  • Imposing variable import duties on raw sugar and a fixed import duty on white sugar
  • Subsidizing operating costs, including subsidies for fertilizers and herbicides
  • Subsidizing interest rates for investments in sugarbeet processing and storage

“In total between 2010 and 2017, the government injected an estimated $772 million of public funds into the industry to support a doubling of sugarbeet-processing capacity and beet sugar output,” the report states. The authors estimate the average annual value to the Russian sugarbeet industry of government import protections and direct subsidies during this period at $392 million per year.

By all accounts, Russia’s plan worked. Russia produced a surplus of sugar in excess of 1.6 million tons in 2020, prompting the government to take steps to support and facilitate sugar exports in order to offload its surplus onto the world market.

“This report sheds much needed light on the measures Russia has taken to spur domestic sugar production,” said Dr. Robert Johansson, ASA’s Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis and former Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Russia’s newfound role as a potential sugar exporter requires close monitoring, as its decisions moving forward will now carry additional ramifications for the over-subsidized global dump market for sugar. We take seriously the authors closing observation on the certainty of continued Russian involvement with the sugarbeet industry.”

“The world sugar market is riddled with direct and indirect subsidies,” added ASA’s Director of Economics and Policy Analysis, Jack Roney, “and little is known about the distorting government interventions in many countries’ sugar sectors. This study on Russia follows on the authoritative studies the ASA has commissioned in recent years, and shared with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative, on the sugar industries of Brazil, India, Thailand, and the European Union.” The Russia study, and past country studies, are available at the ASA website.

ASA shared this report in a letter to U.S. trade officials and asked for continued diligence in monitoring Russian intervention moving forward.

Statement on the Confirmation of Dr. Jewel Bronaugh

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance on the confirmation of Dr. Jewel Bronaugh as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):

“America’s sugar farmers and workers congratulate Dr. Jewel Bronaugh on her confirmation as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Dr. Bronaugh brings a wealth of expertise in promoting American agriculture to USDA as well as a tireless commitment to supporting farmers and ranchers. We look forward to partnering with Dr. Bronaugh to support smart farm and trade policies, maintain a sustainable food supply and continue our investments in strong rural communities. Importantly, we are confident that Dr. Bronaugh’s leadership at the USDA on these issues and more will be pivotal in continuing to move agriculture forward.”

Statement on the nomination of Robert Bonnie

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance on the nomination of Robert Bonnie as Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):

“U.S. sugar farmers and workers rely on the Farm Bill programs administered by USDA’s FPAC mission area to continue producing safe, reliable, and quality supplies of American sugar. Robert Bonnie knows how important commodity loans, crop insurance, and conservation practice cost-share are to U.S. farmers.  And he also knows from his previous tenure as Under Secretary how important the career staff are at USDA who implement the Farm Bill.  Those programs have allowed American sugarcane and sugarbeet farmers to sustainably produce 16% more sugar on 11% less land over the past 20 years while using fewer inputs.  We support Mr. Bonnie’s nomination and look forward to continuing to work with him and his staff to find commonsense solutions to today’s issues while supporting our famers and processors.”

Statement on the Growing Climate Solutions Act

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance in support of the reintroduction of the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act:

“America’s sugar farmers are dedicated to advancing climate-smart policies and support efforts to dismantle technical barriers that impede the ability for farmers to voluntarily participate in carbon markets. The bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act is an important step forward and the American Sugar Alliance applauds its reintroduction. We appreciate Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) for their work with Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) to improve this legislation and ensure it helps rural America further achieve its climate goals.

“A number of farmer-friendly changes have been added to the Growing Climate Solutions Act to achieve funding needs without reopening the Farm Bill or otherwise affecting the existing funding of farm and conservation programs. Importantly, this legislation has already garnered support from a bipartisan group of senators who represent a broad cross-section of American agriculture.”

Statement on the Confirmation of Katherine Tai

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance on the confirmation of Ambassador Katherine Tai as the U.S. Trade Representative:

“America’s sugar farmers and workers congratulate Ambassador Tai on her confirmation as the U.S. Trade Representative. We look forward to partnering with Ambassador Tai to advance our shared goals of worker-centered trade policies that acknowledge the importance of good-paying American jobs and the need for fair trade rules reflective of global trading realities. We encourage Ambassador Tai and her talented team at USTR to strive to create a rational global sugar market, one devoid of today’s widespread production- and trade-distorting foreign subsidies.”

Statement on Confirmation of Secretary Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture

Statement from the American Sugar Alliance on the confirmation of Secretary Tom Vilsack as the Secretary of Agriculture:

“America’s sugar farmers and workers extend their heartfelt congratulations to Secretary Tom Vilsack on his confirmation as the Secretary of Agriculture. Secretary Vilsack’s support for smart farm and trade policies will allow sugar producers to continue investing in sustainable farm practices, efficient sugar production and strong communities, while keeping America supplied with an essential ingredient. America’s no-cost sugar policy is integral to this success story and we look forward to partnering with Secretary Vilsack and his team at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue building a brighter future for American agriculture.”

Former USDA Chief Economist to Join American Sugar Alliance in 2021

WASHINGTON – Dr. Robert Johansson will bring more than 20 years of experience to the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) when he joins the association on January 31 as the Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis, ASA announced today. Johansson was most recently Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), where he advised the Secretary of Agriculture, directed the analysis of commodities, and managed the designs of various USDA programs.

Johansson will work alongside ASA’s Director of Economics and Policy Analysis, Jack Roney, to provide domestic and international sugar market analysis and evaluate the farm and trade policies that affect U.S. sugar producers. Roney, who has worked with the industry for more than 30 years, plans to retire in August 2021, at which time Johansson will assume the Director role.

Prior to his selection as Chief Economist at USDA in 2015, Johansson served as the Deputy Chief Economist at USDA. Johansson has also worked in other senior-level roles at USDA as well as positions at the Congressional Budget Office and Office of Management and Budget. Johansson received his Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Minnesota.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rob to the American Sugar Alliance,” said Jack Pettus, ASA’s chairman. “America’s sugar producers are an essential part of our country’s food supply chain, and there are a growing number of complex issues that affect the continued success of the industry. Rob brings a wealth of experience at the highest levels of government that will help us adeptly navigate current and future challenges.”

“I am honored to continue to serve U.S. agriculture by working on behalf of America’s sugar growers and workers,” Johansson said. “Strengthening U.S. sugar policies and eliminating global sugar subsidies are critical to ensuring a level-playing field for U.S. sugarcane and sugarbeet growers and the workers that process America’s sugar.”

 

Statement on Nomination of Katherine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative

“The American Sugar Alliance welcomes President-elect Biden’s nomination of Katherine Tai to be the next U.S. Trade Representative. Ms. Tai has an impeccable reputation as a tough and effective negotiator, with a proven track record of advancing U.S. trade interests and countering unfair trade practices. With the global sugar market more distorted and dysfunctional than ever, we look forward to working closely with USTR-designate Tai to protect America’s no-cost sugar policy and ensure that America’s sugar farmers and workers can continue producing a sustainable and affordable supply of sugar.” – American Sugar Alliance

 

Statement on Nomination of Secretary Tom Vilsack

“During Tom Vilsack’s previous tenure as Secretary of Agriculture, he was a trusted partner to America’s sugar farmers and workers and strengthened the farm and trade policies that support rural America. We look forward to once again working with Secretary Vilsack at the helm of the Department of Agriculture. Together, we will protect America’s no-cost sugar policy and ensure that America’s sugar farmers can continue producing a sustainable and affordable supply of sugar.” – American Sugar Alliance

Statement on House Agriculture Committee Leadership Elections

“America’s sugar farmers and workers extend their congratulations to Congressman David Scott for his election as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson for his election as the Ranking Member. We are confident that under their leadership, the House Agriculture Committee will continue its record of supporting America’s sugar producers and our no-cost sugar policy. We look forward to working closely alongside incoming Chairman Scott and Ranking Member Thompson during the 117th Congress.” – American Sugar Alliance

Statement on Congressman Collin Peterson

“For thirty years, Congressman Collin Peterson has been a stalwart advocate for American agriculture. Thanks to his leadership at the helm of the House Committee on Agriculture, America’s farmers and ranchers have benefitted from smart farm policies that ensure our food supply remains abundant. Congressman Peterson’s extensive knowledge of the unique nature of the sugar industry and support of America’s no-cost sugar policy have been integral to the success of our farmers. On behalf of America’s sugar growers and workers, we are grateful to Congressman Peterson for his service and wish him the best for the future.” – American Sugar Alliance

New Report Finds No Evidence that U.S. Sugar Program Harms Profitability of Sugar-Using Companies

A collaborative analysis conducted by four agricultural economics professors at the University of Tennessee and Oklahoma State University has found that U.S. sugar prices do not impede the financial performance of sugar-using firms.

The analysis thoroughly examined, and rejected, the claim from sugar-using firms “that as the U.S. price of sugar increases relative to the world sugar price, this negatively impacts their profits.” As the authors note, their findings “suggest that U.S. sugar-using firms pass on higher costs to consumers when relative prices increase or do not pass on discounts to consumers when relative sugar prices decrease.”

This was on full display in the aftermath of the dumping of subsidized Mexican sugar on the U.S. market in 2013. Sugar prices plummeted, costing U.S. producers $4 billion and many sugar workers their jobs. Meanwhile, Americans paid higher prices at the grocery store for sweetened products and manufacturers pocketed the profits.

This report expands upon a well-known 2016 report published by Dr. Alexander Triantis, during his tenure as dean of the University of Maryland business school, and analyzes the financial performance of 26 publicly traded companies that use sugar primarily purchased in the United States. In his 2016 report, Dr. Triantis found that under current U.S. sugar policy, the nine largest publicly traded firms producing sugar-containing products had added jobs, increased production, and far outpaced the rest of the food processing industry in profit returns.

The full report prepared by the University of Tennessee and Oklahoma State University agricultural economists can be found here. This is an independent and peer-reviewed report for which no industry funding was received and which was originally published by Agricultural and Food Economics.

Dr. Karen L. DeLong, one of the report’s authors and an Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee, said that the analysis yielded conclusive results.

“The U.S. sugar program buffers domestic sugar producers against heavily subsidized foreign sugar, but sugar-using firms claim that this program maintains artificially high domestic prices and therefore decreases profits. The data show that when all other conditions remain the same, there is no evidence to support these claims,” DeLong said.

In fact, the analysis found the unexpected result that “as U.S. prices increase relative to world prices, sugar-using firms are more profitable.”

“America’s sugar farmers and workers are proud to provide our customers with more than 60 different types of affordable and sustainably produced American sugar,” said Jack Pettus, chairman of the American Sugar Alliance. “This analysis confirms what our industry has long known: the price stability provided by America’s no-cost sugar policy has no negative effect on the bottom line of sugar-using companies.”

Pettus continued, “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of essential products like sugar to be produced in the U.S. and delivered through reliable supply chains. America’s sugar farmers and workers need a strong no-cost sugar policy to give us a fighting chance against excess foreign imports that threaten our ability to produce sugar domestically.”

New Survey: Americans Get Great Deal on Sugar, Support Sugar Farmers

Sugar farmers from across the country are headed to Capitol Hill today to defend America’s no-cost sugar policy, armed with brand-new data finding consumers believe American-made sugar to be affordable.

Although consumers in other developed countries pay about the same as U.S. shoppers for sugar, critics of U.S. sugar policy continue to perpetuate the myth that supporting American farmers makes sugar too expensive, but their flawed messaging does not resonate with consumers. According to a new survey of consumers, 63 percent of Americans believe sugar is not expensive at all or the right price – fewer than two in 10 consumers believe that sugar is priced too high.

In fact, the survey found that the average consumer believes that sugar producers receive one dollar for every pound of sugar they produce. In reality, that number is significantly lower, with wholesale prices averaging 36 cents for a pound of refined sugar in 2019. Sugar farmers only receive approximately half of that 36 cents, from which they must deduct substantial expenses for producing the crop.

“America’s farmers are proud to grow the sugar crops that help feed our nation,” said Dan Younggren, a sugarbeet farmer from Hallock, Minnesota and president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. “U.S. sugar policy is a win for taxpayers, too, as it’s designed to cost nothing. After last year’s disastrous crop, it’s not easy leaving the farm as we are busy preparing for spring planting, but it’s important that we take this message directly to Congress.”

In addition, a majority of Americans are stunned to learn that sugar producers see only a small share of the cost of sugar-sweetened products. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed found it surprising that sugar prices account for just two cents of the cost of a $1 chocolate bar, a favorite American treat.

These data bolster the message farmers are taking to lawmakers this week: America’s no-cost sugar policy ensures that consumers and manufacturers alike have a reliable supply of affordable, high-quality and sustainably produced American-made sugar.

“My family works hard to grow sugarcane, investing long days and incredible expense to supply America with a sweet supply of sugar at a fair price,” said Stephen Simoneaux, a sugarcane farmer from Louisiana, who is participating in congressional meetings this week. “We’ve been farming sugarcane for several generations, and I would like my children to continue this legacy. But if farm policy critics are successful in destroying America’s no-cost sugar policy and opening our markets to a flood of subsidized foreign sugar, our farm will not survive.”

The survey also found that 67 percent of Americans prefer to buy homegrown American sugar and support our farmers, even if that sugar were to cost slightly more than imported sugar. American-made sugar is grown by family famers across the United States, processed by skilled workers and distributed quickly to consumers and manufacturers.

All told, the U.S. sugar industry generates 142,000 jobs across more than 20 states. And because American sugar is produced using some of the most stringent environmental and labor practices, it’s a sustainable alternative to subsidized foreign sugar.

This comprehensive nationwide survey of American consumers was conducted January 29-31. Review full survey results here.

Congressman Vela: Diversity of Ag Committee Benefits Farmers Everywhere

The chairman of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over farm commodity programs said yesterday that the unique perspectives and bipartisanship of his panel help it function well for U.S. farmers and ranchers.

“The demographic and geographic diversity inside the House Agriculture Committee make it special,” Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX) said at yesterday’s International Sweetener Symposium.

Each member has different experiences and priorities to share, which ensures that farm policies work better for the whole agricultural industry, not just a handful of crops, according to Vela, who chairs the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. And working with growers of all shapes, sizes, and specialties is a priority for the panel, he said.

“We held our first hearing back in May, and we brought in farmers from all around the country to talk about the general conditions of the farm economy,” he said. “What we learned is that no matter where they came from – we had farmers from California, Texas, Minnesota, Florida and elsewhere – folks are having a very difficult time.”

Some growers are being hit hard by overseas tariffs that have dried up markets, he explained. Others have struggled with weather disasters, are experiencing mounting financial pressures, and have faced losses that traditional risk management tools are not equipped to cover.

Vela said Congress was fortunate to pass the 2018 Farm Bill when it did, because delayed action would have left farmers with fewer tools to weather the storm. That bill included a continuation of America’s no-cost sugar policy, which Vela said is critically important to sugarcane farmers in his district.

“With respect to sugar policy…the approach of leaving well enough alone is the right approach,” he explained. The policy operates without taxpayer cost, and Vela said that he would continue to lead efforts to rebuff any political attacks on sugar farmers in the future.

Similar sentiments about sugar policy were made by lawmakers throughout this week’s meetings, which underscores the thesis of Vela’s speech. Members of the Agriculture Committee are listening to the priorities of their colleagues and are reaching across the aisle to come together on behalf of all farmers, not just those in their districts.

EU Sugar Reform Transferring Billions from Farmers and Taxpayers to Food Processors

After more than a decade of transition, Europe’s sugar policy reform is finally complete, and it is transferring $2.5 billion a year in wealth from farmers and EU taxpayers to food processors, with no discernible benefit to grocery shoppers.

That’s according to Patrick Chatenay, a European sugar market expert from the United Kingdom who spoke at today’s International Sweetener Symposium.

Some critics of America’s no-cost sugar policy point to the EU as a model for change, but Chatenay warns that there are valuable lessons to be considered from Europe’s experience.

“Domestic and foreign subsidies destroy competitive industries,” he said, “Europe is still wrestling with the effects of both and these subsidies are distorting Europe’s market.”

Even after reform, European sugar farmers are still receiving nearly $700 million a year in subsidies to keep production up, and that is fueling some inefficiency, according to Chatenay. He explained that most of these subsidies are going to producers in the least efficient areas, while the most efficient producers are receiving no sugar-specific help and are going out of business.

Meanwhile, Europe is now exposed to the artificially-low sugar prices found on the heavily subsidized world market. Subsidies in Brazil, India, Thailand and elsewhere have generated a glut of surplus sugar that has pushed prices well below average production costs.

That’s imperiling even Europe’s efficient sugar businesses and farms without lowering overall food costs in the region. Plummeting sugar prices are being absorbed by industrial buyers, such as candy and snack companies, without being passed along to EU consumers, Chatenay said.

Europe was forced to overhaul its sugar policies after the World Trade Organization found its use of export subsidies and other programs to be in violation of international trade rules. And the rocky road that Europe experienced transitioning to a liberalized market is also an important consideration, Chatenay told the audience.

“Eighty-three sugar mills were closed, some 150,000 farms gave up growing sugarbeets, and tens of thousands sugar-related jobs were lost with the initial reform,” he said. “The latest reform will increase these losses because of the resulting low-price environment.”

Chatenay’s presentation mirrored a study he published in June about the effects of Europe’s changes.

U.S. sugar producers receive loans that are repaid with interest when their sugar is sold, rather than EU-style direct subsidy payments, and are wary of repeating Europe’s mistakes. They have endorsed a strategy known as the Zero-for-Zero sugar policy, which looks to simultaneously reform subsidies globally instead of unilateral disarmament.

N.C. Congressman Urges Agriculture to Speak Proudly with One Voice

Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC) predicted significant turnover during the 2020 congressional election, and he encouraged agriculture to use the opportunity to work together to educate new lawmakers about the industry’s importance to America’s future.

“Agriculture is a bright spot, and we need to talk more about what we do,” he said at today’s International Sweetener Symposium. “A country that can feed itself and feed the rest of the world is in a dominant position to be prosperous at home and strong abroad.”

Agriculture is an economic powerhouse that creates jobs, provides opportunities in rural communities, and embodies the values that make America great, said Rouzer, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. But not everyone in Congress will understand its importance unless farmers and ranchers speak proudly about their successes and fight for their interests.

Rouzer noted that agriculture’s future success will depend on good farm policies with bipartisan appeal, as well as unity throughout the farm and ranch community. The overwhelming support of the 2018 Farm Bill, he said, was emblematic of what agriculture can accomplish when everyone comes together for the common good of all.

“It’s so critically important for us to remain united with one voice and remain active politically,” he said, explaining that the geographic diversity that agriculture possesses is an asset that can mobilize elected officials from both parties across the country.

Sugar is a good example of the power of a large geographic footprint, he said, because it brings together lawmakers from Midwestern sugarbeet states and sugarcane in the South. It’s little wonder, Rouzer noted, that no-cost U.S. sugar policy remains a fixture in the farm safety net.

“Hanging together and speaking with one voice is critically important to [sugar producers’] ability to protect your interests long term,” he concluded. “As long as I’m in the House, you’ve got a friend here and you always will.”

U.S. Sugar Producers Recognize Retiring Roberts, Conaway

America’s farmers and ranchers were blessed during the last Farm Bill debate to be represented by Congressional leaders who worked well together and were determined to pass a farm bill on time and get it signed into law.

Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Mike Conaway (R-TX) were emblematic of how much Congress can achieve when people come together for a common cause.

Last week, Conaway announced that he will not seek reelection in 2020, joining Roberts, who announced earlier this year that he would retire in 2020.

“America’s sugar producers owe these two men a debt of gratitude,” Ryan Weston, chairman of the American Sugar Alliance, said this week at the industry’s annual convention. “We’ve faced tremendous challenges in recent years – from low prices to bad weather and rampant foreign subsidization – but thanks to our champions on Capitol Hill, we survived and continued to thrive.”

Both Roberts and Conaway have addressed the sugar industry at past conventions, Weston explained, saying, “we always knew that these two would put American farmers first, because that’s exactly what they have always done throughout their careers.”

Conaway, who addressed the International Sweetener Symposium in 2016 and 2017, was clearly a vocal supporter of America’s no-cost sugar policy.

“Sugar policy, for me, is easy to defend,” he explained to a roomful of sugar farmers who traveled to Idaho for the convention three years ago. “It works…it works for the American taxpayer, and more importantly it works for the American sugar producer.”

Roberts addressed the International Sweetener Symposium in 2015, telling farmers that he had “no intention of reopening and re-debating the farm bill,” thus preserving U.S. sugar policy.

Weston wished both Roberts and Conaway a happy retirement from Congress and said the industry is eager to work with Members who take on their leadership roles with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees in the next Congress.

“Our challenges aren’t going away,” he concluded. “Times are very tough in rural America right now and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Senator Stabenow and Congressman Peterson along with the next generation of Republican Committee leaders.”

Congressman Richard Hudson Proud to Support America’s Sugar Farmers

“I’m proud to stand tall with [U.S. sugar producers] every single day …and I appreciate what you stand for.” That was the message Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC) delivered at today’s International Sweetener Symposium.

Hudson, who co-chairs the Agriculture and Rural America Task Force, said America’s sugar industry supports thousands of U.S. farmers, thousands of U.S. workers, and billions in goods and services to the U.S. economy. So, supporting a strong U.S. sugar policy was an easy decision for him in the last Farm Bill.

“I want my sugar made here in America,” he explained, noting that he’s worked hard to defeat past attempts to weaken the country’s no-cost sugar policy.

“It would have crushed our domestic industry,” he said of a 2018 Farm Bill amendment designed to gut U.S. sugar policy and outsource our sugar production. “Foreign countries are subsidizing their industries, dumping their sugar, and bottoming out prices…that’s not a free market.”

That anti-farmer amendment was soundly defeated, which Hudson credits to the hard work of sugar producers, farm policy’s bipartisanship, and the solidarity of the agricultural community.

Agriculture is the top industry in North Carolina and in Hudson’s district. He emphasized the importance of agriculture continuing to work closely together to overcome current economic challenges and future political fights.

“I’ve worked hard to be a partner with you and everyone else in our agriculture community,” he concluded. “I strive to be someone you can count on, and I look forward to continuing that partnership.”

Farm Returns Below 2% for Fifth Straight Year as Rural Economy Slumps

The average rate of return for U.S. farmers is 1.3 percent this year, marking the fifth straight year of returns below 2 percent, Dr. John Newton, the chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), said today at the International Sweetener Symposium.

That translates to a negative median farm income of -$1,449 this year, forcing most producers to depend on a growing amount of off-farm income to make ends meet. Returns this low create challenges for agriculture – from keeping pace with rising input costs to repaying operating loans – and the impact ripples throughout the rural economy, he said.

“Commercial debt in agriculture is at record highs, loan delinquency rates are rising, and Chapter 12 bankruptcies have increased sharply,” Newton told the group. “Some major lenders are reducing their exposure to agricultural loans and reducing lending volumes.”

Brian Cavey, senior vice president of government affairs for CoBank, said his bank continues to be a major agricultural lender, with 100 percent of its business focused on farm credit, agribusiness lending, and rural infrastructure.  But he agreed that current tailwinds in the rural economy are troubling.

“Right now, the name of the game is managing risk and uncertainty,” Cavey said.

This kind of environment necessitates strong farm policies to give lenders confidence that loans will be repaid in a timely manner. Protecting crop insurance and opposing cuts to the farm safety net are top priorities for CoBank, he explained.

The company was one of the biggest champions of America’s no-cost sugar policy during the recent Farm Bill debate for that reason.

The National Farmers Union, like the AFBF, was another vocal supporter of sugar policy and its president, Roger Johnson, explained that keeping sugar policy strong will be key to weathering the current storm.

“Farmers are facing an uncertain future, and they need some long-term predictability,” Johnson concluded. “With continued low commodity prices and the impacts that current trade disputes are having on rural America, the real question that we need to be asking ourselves is how to strengthen farm policy even more.”

Glenn Thompson Outlines His Top Priorities for Ag Committee

Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (PA), the second highest ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, kicked off the 2019 International Sweetener Symposium this morning by telling sugar producers that his vision for the Committee’s future is to “achieve a robust rural economy.”

“This requires the right farm policy for all our commodities, including sugar, that exceeds the expectations of our farm families,” he said. “If we can exceed your expectations, then rural America is going to do quite well.”

Thompson, who is the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, explained that he would continue to be a vocal supporter and champion for the country’s sugar producers.

Sugar policy is part of the 2018 Farm Bill and attempts to weaken it by a handful of opponents during debate on the House floor were summarily rejected thanks to Thompson and others.

“We defeated efforts to repeal the sugar program with a remarkable 141-vote margin,” he said. “That type of decisive [vote] should resolve once and for all that our current U.S. sugar policy is good for both the American consumer and for our hardworking sugar producing farm families.”

Thompson thanked the audience for their efforts to help secure a Farm Bill that was passed on-time, and he pledged to continue to fight attempts to weaken sugar policy in the next Farm Bill.

No-cost sugar policy, which is based on loans that are repaid with interest, is particularly important given the heavily subsidized nature of foreign sugar production, he noted.

In addition to maintaining a strong farm safety net, Thompson outlined other areas that he thinks are important for the House Agriculture Committee and Congress as a whole.

“The greatest challenges before agriculture are regulatory reform and resolving trade agreements,” Thompson explained. “Tackling both of those areas will help our farmers compete on a level playing field.”

Thompson also pointed to rural development and expanded educational opportunities as key to helping small towns rebound from current economic challenges and thrive.

World Sugar Prices Hit Rock Bottom, Poised for Recovery

The world sugar market, which has been battered by low prices, may soon get a reprieve, according to the head of the International Sugar Organization.

Jose Orive, the group’s executive director, addressed the International Sweetener Symposium today and said, “World sugar prices have hit bottom, and signs are pointing to a recovery.”

That’s good news for global farmers who have been struggling with prices as low as 12 cents per pound – well below the average cost of producing sugar. To survive falling prices, many foreign governments have increased subsidies, which has only increased overproduction.

“The world is still suffering from high accumulated stocks that will need to be absorbed by the market before we can see any improvement on price,” Orive explained. But he is optimistic because production from big sugar suppliers appears to be declining, which will let stocks fall.

Brazil, the world’s biggest exporter, has seen production fall rapidly since 2017/18.  Production by the second biggest exporter, Thailand, is also down as farmers switched to alternative crops. Europe, another major producer and exporter, has also devoted fewer acres to beet production this year.

However, Orive warned that there are factors that could quickly change the outlook.

“Weather could provoke production variations, while consumption growth is declining as the war against sugar continues,” he said. “Government policies will continue, mainly for political reasons.”

India, now the world’s biggest sugar producer, is a prime example of the rapid impact policy changes can have on the market.

There, farmers are guaranteed prices for their crops and these price guarantees have continued to climb despite downward market signals. These cane prices combined with export quotas and subsidies are all being challenged in the World Trade Organization for violating international rules.

“The global sugar market is the most distorted commodity market in the world because of subsidies,” noted Jack Roney, a U.S. sugar industry official who moderated the panel. “Today’s low prices are a result of these subsidies, and any bullish signals can be quickly undone by government intervention.”

Roney said the extreme volatility of the world market is the reason America has a sugar policy, and he urged governments around the world to put an end to competing subsidies.

“U.S. farmers are highly efficient, and we want to operate in a free market, but that cannot happen until all countries set aside their subsidies and let a real market form,” he concluded.

European Union Serves as Warning to US Sugar Policy Critics

new report analyzing the impact of sugar policy liberalization in the European Union (EU) should serve as a dire warning to those who would like the United States to follow the EU’s lead and unilaterally eliminate U.S. sugar policy without addressing subsidies on the world stage.

This week marks 13 years since the EU first began tearing down its sugar program after the World Trade Organization found it to be in violation of its international trade commitments. Since that time, Europe’s sugar industry has faced an uncertain future – 83 sugar mills closed and 120,000 jobs were lost – and subsidies remain prevalent as prices plummet below the cost of production.

Authored by UK-based sugar policy expert Patrick Chatenay, this report takes a closer look at EU sugar market conditions following the latest chapter in EU’s reform: the end of sales quotas and minimum prices for sugar in October 2017.

“The immediate effects of liberalization have been catastrophic for the EU sugar industry,” Chatenay writes.

Chatenay found that now exposed to the oversupplied and chronically depressed global sugar market, driven by foreign subsidies, sugar farmers have seen an approximately 20 percent drop in prices while large industrial sugar buyers have pocketed $3.4 billion, “with no discernable advantage to the final consumer.”

This transfer of wealth from farmers to food processors has necessitated additional taxpayer subsidies to help prop up Europe’s farmers.  Totaling nearly $700 million a year, EU subsidies have further distorted Europe’s sugar market and driven prices even lower, according to Chatenay.

“EU sugar now operates with fluctuating, distorted and most often depressed world market prices, influenced by widespread government interventions,” the report states. “Not only must its most efficient producers compete with foreign subsidized sugar, but they also face competition from subsidies directed to [less efficient] EU beet areas.”

And this unfair competition is further threatening efficient EU producers and forcing them to cut costs by shuttering factories. Chatenay quoted one official as saying that “10 to 20 sugar [EU] factories will close within 5 years, given that about one-fifth of the EU mills are not competitive.”

Europe’s failed experiment over the past decade should serve as a stark warning to critics of U.S. sugar policy, say officials from America’s industry.

“Europe is often held up as a model for sugar reform, but the facts tell a much different story,” said American Sugar Alliance Chairman Ryan Weston. “European taxpayers continue to spend millions propping up the sugar industry while farmers face bankruptcy. Simply put, unilateral disarmament doesn’t work. A free sugar market will only be realized when every nation agrees to put an end to unfair subsidies that threaten highly efficient U.S. producers”

A recent report released by Texas Tech University put into perspective the harm that widespread government intervention has had on the global sugar market. The report profiled 22 foreign countries, accounting for 80 percent of global sugar production, and documented the widespread use of government support, tariffs, and subsidies that contribute to an unpredictable market.

Conversely, American sugar farmers do not receive government subsidy checks. U.S. sugar policy is based on the use of loans to store sugar until customers need it and then the loans are repaid with interest. This allows the sugar industry to maintain a reliable and affordable supply of sugar for U.S. manufacturers and consumers alike.

“The EU’s struggle to reform its sugar regime makes it clear that the distorted nature of the global sugar market as it stands will never allow for fair competition,” Weston said. “That is why America’s sugar producers are asking Congress to call a global cease-fire on sugar subsidies by passing Congressman Ted Yoho’s Zero-for-Zero resolution. We look forward to the creation of a truly level playing field.”

Texas Tech Releases New Global Sugar Subsidy Guide

U.S. trade negotiators and lawmakers gained access to a helpful resource about foreign agricultural policy today when Texas Tech University unveiled a report on global sugar subsidies.

The study – authored by Dr. Darren Hudson, director of the school’s International Center for Agricultural Competitiveness – included profiles of 22 foreign countries that account for 80 percent of global sugar production and 83 percent of exports.

He examined major market players like Brazil, India, and Thailand, as well as those with which America is currently engaged in trade talks, including China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.

“There’s one common thread connecting every country,” Hudson said. “They all subsidize their own country’s sugar production to the detriment of others.”

This, he explained, has made sugar one of the world’s most distorted commodity markets. And to protect their domestic sugar industries from the associated price volatility, countries are creating more and more subsidies, which is adding to the oversupply and depressing prices further.

“Government intervention in the world sugar market remains extreme and widespread with a wide variety measures to support domestic sugar producers,” read the report.

Tariffs were a commonality among all countries in the Texas Tech report, with some in excess of 100 percent. Domestic price supports, debt forgiveness, and handouts for inputs such as fertilizer and equipment were also widespread. Ethanol programs that subsidize the use of sugar as a feedstock act as a price support and are gaining in popularity, the report found.

Brazil has long been the world’s biggest sugar producer, riding an estimated $2.5 billion in annual subsidies to a dominate share of the global market. But their dominance is being challenged by India, which has dramatically increased government support and exports in recent years.

An export subsidy, supply controls, tariffs, and soft loans were among the new Indian policies the report identified. India, whose supports are estimated at more than $1.7 billion a year, is currently being challenged by several countires at the World Trade Organization for excessive subsidization.

The United States is not included in the report. U.S. sugar policy – a combination of import quotas and loans repaid with interest – operates without taxpayer cost and exists as a response to foreign subsidies.

The U.S. sugar industry has publicly endorsed a concept introduced by Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL), known as the Zero-for-Zero sugar policy, which would end America’s no-cost policy in exchange for other countries eliminating their trade-distorting programs and letting a true free market form.

Sugar Producers Praise Reintroduction of Zero-for-Zero Legislation

Members of the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) praised Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) for taking decisive action against foreign sugar subsidies with yesterday’s reintroduction of the Zero-for-Zero sugar policy.

Zero-for-Zero proposes dropping America’s no-cost sugar policy in exchange  for the verified elimination of foreign sugar subsidies.

H.Con.Res. 7 details how foreign subsidies distort the international sugar market and hold prices well below the average cost of producing sugar. It specifically highlights Brazil, India, Thailand, Europe and Mexico for their egregious abuse of direct and indirect subsidies.

The billions spent by foreign nations stand in stark contrast to America’s sugar policy, which costs taxpayers $0 because it’s based on loans that are repaid with interest.

“America’s sugar producers are among the most efficient in the world, but it’s hard to compete with the treasuries of foreign countries,” said Ardis Hammock, a farmer from Clewiston, FL. “It will be impossible to establish a true free market in sugar unless these unfair subsidies are eliminated, and Zero-for-Zero recognizes that basic fact.”

Ardis grows sugarcane with her husband and son on a farm that’s been in her family for three generations. She’s proud of what her family has accomplished over the past 100 years but is worried about the future as prices remain low and foreign governments fuel overproduction. 

“Our no-cost sugar policy gives us a fighting chance to survive until reform to the world market materializes,” she said. “Congressman Yoho’s plan is common-sense legislation that says we’re not going to let foreign cheaters run hardworking Americans out of business.”

Unilaterally eliminating or weakening the current U.S. sugar policy without concessions from foreign nations would collapse the domestic sugar market, endangering 142,000 industry jobs and putting consumers at risk of foreign dependence.  

The American Sugar Alliance urged Congress to move quickly on Yoho’s effort.

Original co-sponsors of the Zero-for-Zero policy include Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Paul Mitchell (R-MI) and Alex Mooney (R-WV).

Top U.S. Trade Negotiator Joins American Sugar Alliance Staff

A trade negotiator with more than three decades of experience, including a key role in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, has joined the American Sugar Alliance as an in-house consultant.

Brian Grunenfelder will work alongside veteran ASA Trade Adviser Don Phillips in helping analyze the complex global trade issues that impact U.S. sugar farmers and shape America’s no-cost sugar policy.

Grunenfelder recently served as the Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative in the Office of Agricultural Affairs. In this capacity, he led the U.S.-Japan Trans-Pacific Partnership Agricultural Market Access Group and managed agricultural negotiations with the Republic of Korea, Colombia, and Peru. 

Grunenfelder previously spent more than 25 years within the Foreign Agricultural Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We warmly welcome Brian and are thrilled that he has brought his vast experience in agriculture and trade policy to the American Sugar Alliance,” said Ryan Weston, ASA chairman.

“America’s sugar farmers are increasingly under threat from unfair foreign subsidies and malicious trade practices,” Weston said. “Brian has the expertise to navigate these varied international challenges and will be an invaluable asset in shaping sugar policy here at home.”

Don Phillips, who will work with Grunenfelder to ensure a smooth transition, plans to continue with ASA in a more limited role, primarily focused on serving on the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Don has been a champion for this industry,” Weston added. “He’s guided us through numerous trade negotiations and conflicts, and he’s always done so with class, professionalism, and tremendous leadership. On behalf of 142,000 U.S. sugar farmers and workers, thank you, Don.”