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!”


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.

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.

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.



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


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  


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.

How Louisiana Has Sweetened America for Two Centuries

Louisiana farmers are growing sugarcane on some of the same soil their ancestors did more than two centuries ago.

The key to the resilience and success of Louisiana’s 450 cane farming families and 11 raw sugar mills is simple:

“We take care of what Mother Nature has provided,” said Jim Simon, General Manager for the American Sugar Cane League.

For over 100 years, the League strengthened Louisiana’s sugarcane industry through investments in research, student fellowships, and advocacy for the sugar policy that keeps its legacy of family farming alive. Louisiana’s sugarcane farmers and workers support 19,600 jobs and drive $4.23 billion back to the state’s economy.

“We’re very proud of what we do here in Louisiana; the average cane farmer here produces enough sugar to take care of about 125,000 Americans. It’s a quite impressive, important part of our culture, our history, our economy,” Jim said.

“I want my children, if they choose to farm, to have the same opportunities that I had, if not maybe more,” said 6th generation farmer Catherine Floyd.

Her family grows sugarcane on some of the same land in South-Central Louisiana that her ancestors farmed more than 100 years ago. She credits their success in part to their commitment to sustainability.

That commitment is shared by every sugarcane operation in Louisiana. The League actively partners with researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Louisiana State University (LSU) to find ways to minimize inputs and protect soil health.

“Things that we are doing now for the sustained success of our industry are in turn achieving sustained success of the land that we live on, the continual production of food that we can provide,” said sugarcane farmer and scientist, Brayden Blanchard.

Brayden is studying plant breeding as he works towards his PhD in agronomy at LSU. His work focuses on adjusting current research procedures to develop more cold-tolerant, disease-resistant, and higher-yielding sugarcane varieties so that growers have the tools they need to face a changing climate.

“It’s all data-driven, it’s all science-driven,” Brayden said. “[It’s] geared towards making more with less and providing a more sustainable and productive industry for our growers, and really across the country.”

The American Sugar Cane League’s 100-year history is a testament to the resiliency and strength of our sugar producers, but also the investments that the Louisiana sugarcane industry has made in sustainable research and technology. We can’t wait to see what the next 100 years looks like.

What a Treat! America’s Sugar Farmers Keep Halloween Sweet

This Halloween, Americans are estimated to spend a record $3 billion on Halloween candy for a second year in a row.

Despite the inflationary rise of candy prices, the sugar in it still only accounts for a couple cents per treat. In fact, a recent study by the University of Tennessee confirmed that sugar prices are not the primary driver of candy costs.

The cost of an average candy bar today is $1.69 but the cost of the sugar in it is only roughly $0.02 – that two cents per candy bar has to stretch pretty far to support 151,000 jobs and thousands of family farms across a dozen states.

While American sugar farmers and workers are proud to provide the sweetness in your favorite candies, this year has been no treat for farmers. American sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers have faced down skyrocketing input costs, droughts, freezes, and supply chain complications to bring in a record sugar crop (estimated to be 9 million tons).

“It gets harder each year to stay afloat as a family farm. But we keep our harvest going because we know sugar – real sugar! – is an essential and beloved ingredient for so many celebrations.”

Nate Hultgren, Hultgren Farms in Minnesota

“I’m really proud that the sugar from my harvest makes it into the candy millions of people enjoy on Halloween. But times are tough. Without the support of Americans and Congress, my family farm won’t make it. Who will candy companies turn to when American sugar farmers have been driven out of business?”

Todd Landry, a sugarcane grower in Loreauville, LA

So, this Halloween, remember that it is only thanks to the resilience and dedication of people like Nate and Todd that America’s sweetest industry hasn’t turned into a ghost story…

Meet America's Sugar Producers

Celebrate Something Sweet!

Mark your calendars and get ready for a treat, because this week is one to celebrate all things sweet – and the people who make these special days possible! 

Today, October 12 is National Farmer’s Day.  

Friday, October 14 is National Real Sugar Day. 

Saturday, October 15 is National Sweetest Day.  

America’s farmers keep our nation fed. That includes America’s 11,000 sugar farmers! Without the hard work and sacrifices of our sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers, and the dedication and skill of the workers who bring the sugar from the farm to your table, America would not have a stable and reliable supply of made-in-America sugar.  

Our nation relies on farmers like Chris Payne in Oregon… 
And fifth-generation grower Shelby Duplantis in Louisiana…  
And future sugar farmers, too, like Aleigha Robertson in Idaho.  

By growing the sugar crops that keep American food manufacturing lines humming and our pantries stocked, each of our farmers is making an incredible contribution to America.

That’s why this year, people across the country will also be celebrating American sugar farmers during the first annual National Real Sugar Day on Friday, October 14, to honor the people and sugar crops that sweeten our lives.

Of course, there’s no better way to round out a week of celebrations than by sending a sweet treat to show someone you care on National Sweetest Day on Saturday, October 15.

These sweet celebrations are possible due to the dedication of American sugar farmers and workers. The U.S. sugar industry is crucial to a strong food supply chain, our national food security, and to supporting communities across the country with more than 151,000 jobs.

Congress’ continued bipartisan support for a strong and robust U.S. sugar policy ensures that America is not at the whims of unreliable foreign suppliers for an essential food ingredient.

So, this week, don’t forget to celebrate something sweet – and while you’re at it, thank a farmer, too!

New Study Finds Big Candy Posting Big Profits

Life is sweet and profits are up for American confectioners, in part due to the reliability of America’s sugarbeet and sugarcane growers and the stability provided by U.S. sugar policy.  

A new study by the University of Tennessee did the math on candy profits: Over the past 10 years, candy corporations posted high profits and a nearly double the return on investment compared to an average publicly traded U.S. firm. 

In addition to big profits, Big Candy is projecting big growth. The National Confectioners Association projects that U.S. confectionary sales will reach $44.9 billion by 2026, a more than 20% increase from 2021’s $36.9 billion in sales. 

“It’s insulting that multi-billion-dollar corporations are posting high profits while crying poor to Congress as they try to dismantle the policy that protects my farm,” said Nate Hultgren, a sugarbeet grower in Minnesota and President of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. “Family farms like ours across the nation work hard to provide candy and other food companies with sugar, sometimes working 24 hours a day to get the job done. Farming is volatile, unpredictable, and expensive. Farmers are essential to the nation’s food security.”   

The study analyzed the profits and risk of several major sugar-using firms and compared their financial returns and risk metrics to other agri-businesses and a benchmark of all U.S. firms. The high profitability and low volatility of the industry can be attributed, in part, to U.S. sugar policy, which provides a reliable supply of domestically produced sugar and the flexibility to ensure that supply always meets demand.   

Findings include:  

  • The median return on investment for sugar-using firms over the past 10 years was nearly double that of all firms (11.3% vs. 6.1%) and almost double compared to other agribusiness companies (11.3% vs. 6.6%). 
  • Over the past 20 years, sugar prices in the U.S. have been more stable than sugar prices in the volatile world dump market.

​“Big Candy says that purchasing American-made sugar is a financial burden and they need unlimited cheap foreign sugar to survive, but that’s just not true. Just look at their profits! If our critics were successful in weakening the current sugar policy, my farm might not survive. Who will candy companies turn to when American sugar farmers have been driven out of business?” said Bryan Simon, a sugarcane grower in Abbeville, LA.  

U.S. sugar policy supports U.S. farmers by providing loans to store sugar, which are repaid with interest, and leveling the playing field for American producers while providing preferential market access to nearly 40 countries. The U.S. is the third largest importer of sugar in the world. U.S. sugar policy is authorized in the Farm Bill and is designed to cost taxpayers nothing. 

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.  

Investing in Sugar’s Future

America’s sugar farming families and workers are building a brighter future through investments both in sugar crops and the talent needed to produce this essential ingredient.

The grower-owned Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative in Wahpeton, North Dakota, is committed to producing sugar sustainably.

Mike Metzger, Vice President of Agriculture and Research, works alongside his team to give Minn-Dak’s farmers the tools they need to grow the best possible crop. Healthier plants more efficiently harness the power of the sun to create sugar.

One recent development that has helped farmers raise healthier beets are seeds coated with targeted disease and pest control treatments.

“We always say, the hope of the harvest starts with the seed,” Mike shared. “[With] seed treatments, we’re able to deliver a very specific amount of product that’s very active on our pest, that’s in the zone where we want it, while not hurting the seed. It’s been a very great thing.”

This has a major downstream impact. It reduces the need for insecticide applications and results in a healthier sugarbeet, lowering the respiration of beets in storage, increasing sugar, improving efficiencies in processing, and supporting the economic viability of growers.

“Sustainability to me, as an agronomist for sugarbeets, is really the documentation of practices that have been in existence for years. You don’t get to be a 4th generation sugarbeet farm and be successful unless you’re being incredible stewards of the land,” Mike said.

Another way Minn-Dak is showing its commitment to a sustainable future is by investing in its workforce.

Emily Skaare began her career at Minn-Dak as a college intern. She is now a process engineer and part of the team that keeps the co-op running smoothly.

Emily’s work at Minn-Dak includes finding new ways to increase efficiency and become more sustainable. For example, the co-op is working to create more sugar while using fewer resources by recovering waste heat. The co-op captures the heat from hot water that needs to be cooled and then uses it in another part of the process that requires warm water.

Sustainability is consistently top of mind for Emily. “How are we protecting the earth, land, and the resources for the generations ahead of us?” she said. “Are we using appropriately and are we saving appropriately?”

Emily also hopes that her role at Minn-Dak serves as inspiration to others interested in the sugar industry. “It’s good for people to see that this job can be for anybody,” she said.

Check out some more of the sweet ways our sugar producers are helping to create a more sustainable future by viewing our Sugar Sustainably series on YouTube.

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.

Preparing the Next Generation of Sugar Growers

Sugar farmers grow far more than beets and cane. They are also growing the minds of tomorrow’s sugar producers through programs like the Amalgamated Sugar’s Youth Sugarbeet Grower Program. 

Amalgamated Sugar Company, a grower-owned beet sugar cooperative headquartered in Idaho, began its Youth Sugarbeet Grower Program to invest in young farmers and ensure the industry is sustainable for future generations. The program provides hands-on experience with sugarbeet farming, giving participants the opportunity to raise two shares of sugarbeets on their family farm and requiring a presentation on a research topic of their choice.  

High school student Aleigha Robertson farms with her family in Paul, Idaho. Aleigha has worked to raise sugarbeets while researching topics such as cover crops. 

Her participation in the Youth Sugarbeet Grower Program has taught her new skills and strengthened her advocacy for sustainable farming practices.

Her mom, Mindy, has helped her along the way. “Every good farm kid should know how to pick rock, move hand lines, drive truck, be involved in what we do and it’s important for me to teach my kids to work and to be involved in our farm and grow to love it,” Mindy said. 

America’s sugar farmers, like the Robertsons, continue to invest in ways to produce sugar more sustainably. On their farm, the Robertsons have made gains with efficiency and sustainability while improving yields. They have gone from harvesting 13 tons of sugarbeets per acre decades ago to 40 tons per acre today. 

“My dad has done a great job about keeping the land, being able to harvest it and use it over and over,” Aleigha added. “And then that just means my siblings, if any of us want to come back, it’s here for us and we can use it.” 

Check out some more of the sweet ways our sugar producers are helping to create a more sustainable future by viewing our Sugar Sustainably series on YouTube.  

Producing Sugar Sustainably on Earth Day, and Every Day

Earth Day is a day to celebrate our planet and bring awareness to the part that we all play in making the world a more sustainable place.  

As stewards of the land, sugar farmers have been investing in a healthier planet for generations. They’re protecting the land that helps feed us and working to pass the American legacy of farming to the next generation.  

For America’s sugar farmers and workers, producing sugar sustainably means creating a brighter future for us all. That’s why our producers are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water and soil quality, and sequester carbon. Over the past 20 years, we’ve vastly increased productivity, producing 16 percent more sugar on 11 percent less land while reducing inputs. 

Through our Sugar Sustainably series, we’ve been able to document some of the ways sugar producers are continuously investing in our planet and producing America’s sweetest crop with future generations in mind. Check out a selection of stories below and view the full playlist of Sugar Sustainably stories on YouTube. 

  • Targeted application of nitrogen helps spur crop production, but it’s important to only use as much as you need. Sugarcane farmers like Keith Dugas are working with researchers to test new technologies to apply precise amounts of what a crop needs, like nitrogen, and only when they need it. This practice better protects the environment.
  • Over in Colorado, fourth-generation sugarbeet farmer Paul Schlagel is working to make his farm more sustainable. The Schlagel farm uses strip tilling to prepare the ground for seed, reducing the amount of carbon released back into the air which helps to improve air quality.
  • RaNae Isaak is an engineer at Cummins who grew up on a sugarbeet farm and has helped design more efficient tractor engine systems that are used on sustainable farms all over the U.S. Thanks to agricultural innovators like RaNae, tractors are now able to harvest 100 acres with the same emissions used to harvest just one acre in 1997. 
  • In addition to sugar, our producers supply several co-products that have multiple uses – including use as a renewable biofuel! Many sugarcane processors, for example, fuel their boilers using bagasse, which is the fiber leftover from extracting the sugar from the cane. By using bagasse, the companies take what would be waste and turn it into an energy source.   

We should all be encouraged to look at ways to invest in our planet to create a brighter future. America’s sweetest industry is proud to do our part by prioritizing people, protecting the planet, producing superior products, and promoting fair-price policies.  

Happy Earth Day! 

Dr. Johansson: Sugar Forecasts and the Farm Safety Net

Column authored by Dr. Robert Johansson, Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance.

The vernal equinox, aka spring equinox, came and went Sunday, March 20, marking the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

As all good aggies know, that means the economists at the Food and Agricultural Policy Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri have just published their new 10-year baseline for agricultural production and programs.

That baseline is adjusted by University of Missouri economists to reflect more recent 2022 prices and economic conditions compared to the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) baseline published in part in November and in full in February. Most of the data and assumptions used for these projections came from the January time frame, however. That means that a lot of the impacts one might expect from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and disruptions with Black Sea deliveries will not be reflected in this baseline.

For example, while fertilizer prices are assumed higher for 2022/23 in this baseline compared to the 2021/22 crop year, the extreme rise in fertilizer prices since the conflict began and the likelihood that Russia and Belarus will have continuing difficulties with exporting goods are not captured in this report. As another example, this baseline does not include the projected increases in interest rates announced by the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee in March.

From a sugar perspective, the equinox also marks the tail end of the sugarcane harvest (with some acres left to harvest yet in Florida and Texas) and the beginning of sugarbeet planting.

Taking stock:

  • we expect record domestic sugar production at 9.4 million tons in 2021/22, despite challenges ranging from historic drought in the Northern Great Plains to hurricanes battering the Gulf Coast shores and a freeze in Florida this January; and
  • the projections for next year are for a continued increase in production to more than 9.7 million tons in 2022/23.

With record production for American sugar farmers this year and next, there will be more than an adequate supply of sugar to fulfill our nation’s needs. Projected imports for this year and next are expected to continue to decline from the recent high of 4.2 million tons in 2019/20.

Looking forward, FAPRI expects overall sugar demand to grow by nearly 1 million tons over the next 10 years, as the number of people in America grows over time. Per capita consumption of sugar has been relatively flat over the recent 10-year period, while consumption of high fructose corn syrup has been falling.

Sugar demand growth is met with expected growth in domestic production, but U.S. sugar policy also gives 41 countries, most of them developing nations, preferential access to our market to ensure that consumers always stay stocked with this essential ingredient. In fact, the U.S. is the third largest sugar importer in the world. Overall stocks-to-use remain near 14.5%, indicating ample stocks of sugar are projected to be available on average over the projection period.

While FAPRI does not explicitly discuss government program costs for sugar, USDA in their 10-year baseline continues to project a sugar program cost of $0 over the next 10 years. And in the FAPRI baseline with rising production in the U.S., sugar prices for raw cane sugar and refined beet sugar are expected on average to remain above the loan rates.

However, with any good economic forecast there are both positives and negatives. An area worth keeping an eye on is rising costs of production. Both FAPRI and USDA expect agricultural costs of production to continue to increase over the next 10 years. FAPRI has input costs rising by 24% and USDA has input costs rising by 8% over the baseline period, which again does not include any developments from February or March. FAPRI projects the farm debt-to-asset ratio creeping up to 15.7% by 2031 (which would be the highest since 1989 if realized), reflecting rising costs of production and stagnant prices for outputs.

In the face of such anticipated challenges, it is critical that Congress continue to back a strong farm safety net including a no-cost sugar policy in order to allow continued investments in farm productivity and refining efficiencies.

Meet America's Sugar Producers

Farmers Stand on the Front Lines of Food Security

National Agriculture Day is an annual day to celebrate the American farmer. In America, we spend a smaller proportion of our household income on food than any other developed country. A safe, affordable food supply with amazing variety and unequaled distribution is something to celebrate.   

 However, as farmers prepare for spring planting this year, the mood across agriculture is far from celebratory. Skyrocketing input costs are putting the squeeze on already tight farm budgets, debts relative to assets are rising, and the cost of credit is going up, leaving farmers uncertain about the future and consumers wary of the rising costs of food.    

Our farmers are standing on the front lines of food security. America’s farm policies must reflect this reality.  

The farm families who grow sugarcane and sugarbeets are a critical part of the American food supply. Thanks to our farmers and processors, mills, and refineries, these crops are turned into a ready supply of sugar. More than 60 different kinds of sugar, including powdered sugar, brown sugar, various granular sizes and many other types of sugar, keep food manufacturing lines humming and home pantries stocked with just-in-time deliveries to food companies and grocery stores.  

Growing sugar certainly takes hard work and requires major expenses. For example, even using today’s most advanced conservation techologies, we need fuel to power our tractors and fertilizer to nurture our crops. 

Just like most Americans, farmers are feeling the pain at the gas pump. A diesel-powered tractor might require five gallons of fuel just to prepare and plant seed on one acre. With diesel above $5 a gallon, a farmer planting 1,000 acres is looking at a $26,000 bill for fuel costs alone, up $10,000 from just last March. It will cost a lot more to care for and harvest the crop this fall.  

Fertilizer prices are also soaring, with some fertilizer components increasing in cost by triple digits. Our farmers are being crushed by these unsustainable costs. Increased costs of production are one reason why the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts a 7.9 percent drop in farm income for 2022. 

As the world watched Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in horror, the war sent shockwaves through these already tenuous fuel and fertilizer supply chains. Countries like Ukraine, Algeria, Moldova, and even Russia, have acted quickly to protect their domestic food supplies by banning the export of sugar and other essential goods. Across the globe, Brazil is expected to divert more of its sugarcane production to ethanol in response to rising oil prices. 

The world’s sugar market was already the world’s most volatile commodity market. Now, this famously dysfunctional market is even more uncertain and unstable. This crisis has underscored the importance of supporting our sugar farmers to ensure that America is not overly dependent on unreliable foreign suppliers for sugar. We already depend on foreign suppliers for about 30 percent of our needs.  

Unfortunately, the price of sugar does not reflect either sugar’s importance as an essential ingredient or the incredible challenges facing America’s sugar farmers as they work to improve productivity while meeting some of the highest labor and environmental standards in the world. Domestic sugar prices have remained relatively flat over the past 40 years. In fact, U.S. sugar prices have fallen in real terms when accounting for inflation.  

Our farmers are proud to help feed America. But this year, many of them might be wondering how they will be able to pass their farm to the next generation.  

America’s farm and trade policies must continue to reflect the integral role that farmers play in securing our food supply and ultimately, the role they play in our national security. That’s the best thanks we can give our farmers this National Agriculture Day. 

Sugar: A Strong Supply Chain

In early 2020, America faced the beginning of a global pandemic. Historically robust supply chains were tested, forcing ships to wait in line at port and leaving grocery store shelves sparsely stocked. However, our industry kept America reliably supplied with sugar, an essential food ingredient.

This was largely due to the strong farm and trade policies that have supported America’s sugar growers and processors and allowed our industry to invest in a robust domestic industry and an extensive storage and delivery network.

Today, there are more than 90 strategically located sugar factories, mills, refineries, and storage facilities in the U.S. that provide for customer needs and just-in-time delivery across the nation, making the sugar industry critical to our national food security.

Congressional support for this vital American industry is through legislation known as the Farm Bill, which includes sugar policy, designed to cost taxpayers $0 and to keep sugar affordable and reliably available. Sugarbeet and sugarcane growers are meeting virtually with congressional offices this week to talk about the importance of this policy as they ramp up to reauthorize the Farm Bill in 2023.

Here’s how it works: The seasonal nature of sugarbeet and sugarcane crops requires sugar producers to store massive amounts of sugar until the market wants it. The sugar extracted from these crops is stored at the expense of sugar producers. The Farm Bill authorizes the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to offer loans to America’s sugar producers so farmers can pay their bills while their sugar is being stored for their customers. Once the customers take delivery and pay producers for the sugar, the storage loans can be repaid to USDA with interest.  

“The sugar provision in the Farm Bill doesn’t cost the taxpayer anything, but it’s an essential safety net for us,” said Ervin Schlemmer, a sugarbeet farmer in Montana.

At the same time, our existing trade commitments provide 41 countries with guaranteed preferential market access to the U.S., making America the 3rd largest sugar importer in the world. Combined with domestic sugar production, this ensures that American consumers and food manufacturers always have sugar available.

If current sugar and trade policies were weakened or eliminated, our market would be flooded with imported sugar that is heavily subsidized and less sustainably produced, driving American farmers and workers out of business. And as a result, our country would be dependent on unreliable and uncertain foreign suppliers.

“I need a strong Farm Bill that stops foreign governments from having a yard sale of their heavily subsidized sugar here in the United States and I need a government to say we want our food produced in America,” said Ardis Hammock, a sugarcane grower in Florida.

We’re proud to help feed America, and glad that Congress has continued to support the sugar farmers and workers who keep America sweet.

National Farmers Union Supports No-Cost Sugar Policy

One of the nation’s leading advocates for family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities renewed its support for a no-cost U.S. sugar policy that creates a level playing field for sugar producers while ensuring a safe, reliable, and affordable supply of sugar for consumers. 

National Farmers Union (NFU), which works on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities, issued its policy resolution in support of U.S. sugar policy at its 120th anniversary convention in Denver. The convention brought together NFU members, industry professionals, policymakers, and reporters. 

The major components of NFU’s policy resolution include: 

  • Continuation of the no-cost U.S. sugar program and encouraging Congress to work with U.S. sugar producers to adopt a strong sugar program in future Farm Bills 
  • Continuation of the suspension agreements governing sugar trade with Mexico 
  • Opposition to ethanol produced from imported sugar receiving any taxpayer subsidies 

NFU has been a long-time supporter of no-cost U.S. sugar policy, voicing its support during debates over the 2018 Farm Bill. 

The Farm Bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer loans on domestically produced sugar that is being stored for customers until they need and pay for it. These loans help farmers cover their production expenses. The loans are repaid to USDA with interest and there are no subsidy checks, meaning that the policy is designed to operate at no cost to taxpayers.

Importantly, U.S. sugar policy gives America’s sugar producers the stability they need to invest in more efficient and sustainable farming operations, preserving multi-generational family farms and strengthening the rural economy.

“The importance of National Farmers Union’s ongoing support for no-cost U.S. sugar policy cannot be overstated,” said Luther Markwart, chairman of the American Sugar Alliance. “NFU has a strong history of working with and advocating for farm families and rural communities, which are the backbone of our country and our sugar producing members. We look forward to partnering with NFU and others as we advocate for America’s sugar producers in the 2023 Farm Bill.”

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.

Sugar: America’s Sweetest Industry

America’s sugarbeet and sugarcane growers are gearing up for virtual meetings to share with congressional offices the importance of the no-cost sugar policy that keeps households and food manufacturers supplied with an essential food ingredient – made right here in America.

While these sugar growers will be sharing their perspective from the farm, the sugar industry plays an important role in strengthening America’s rural economy.

“Growing sugarcane keeps our community alive and viable. We put a lot of money into our local communities and our state economy,” said Gert Hawkins, a sugarcane grower in Louisiana.

Nate Hultgren and his family, sugarbeet growers in Minnesota.

Nate Hultgren, a sugarbeet grower in Minnesota and President of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, echoed, “My message to Congress would be to think about independent small businesses in our rural communities, not just farmers.

The American sugar industry:

  • Employs 142,000 hardworking men and women,
  • Contributes $20 billion annually to the U.S. economy,
  • Consists of sugar companies that are either farmer-owned cooperatives, employee-owned, or family-owned businesses, and
  • Supports good jobs in both urban and rural communities with $4.2 billion in annual wages and benefits.
Julie Serbus, a sugarbeet factory technician in Minnesota.

The sugar industry is vital to the communities where we all live and work. Beyond providing well-paying jobs, America’s sugar producers contribute to local charities and support educational opportunities, strengthening the social well-being of our neighborhoods.

“It’s incredible to see the impact that sugar has on our community. It also gives you a real sense of pride, seeing the crops we process become the sugar in your grocery cart,” said Julie Serbus, a sugarbeet factory technician in Minnesota.

The sugarbeet and sugarcane crops grown by our family farmers are processed into high-quality sugar, keeping the country supplied with an affordable and sustainably produced ingredient.

Coco Sonnier, a sugarcane engineer and chemist in Louisiana.

Much like our farmers, our sugar workers are a critical part of sugar’s story. Coco Sonnier is the 5th generation of her family working in the Louisiana sugar industry and she calls it “the sweetest industry the state has to offer.”

“Coming from a farming family and now working on the processing side at the mill, the sugar industry comes full circle. I understand the importance of growers and processors working together for one common goal – sugar,” Coco said.

We look forward to sharing more about our vibrant industry with Congress and appreciate the bipartisan support for a strong sugar policy that supports American farmers, American jobs and American communities.

Former USDA Chief Economist: Sugar Policy Supports Farmers, Food Security

U.S. sugar producers keep America reliably stocked with affordable sugar, thanks to the stability provided by U.S. sugar policy, said Dr. Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance (ASA), in remarks at today’s Agricultural Outlook Forum, hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Johansson, who served at USDA for 21 years, including most recently a six-year post as USDA’s Chief Economist, spoke to the pressures facing farmers and emphasized that sugar producers are not immune to these challenges.

Rising prices for fertilizer, feed, labor, fuel, pesticides, and transportation have put the squeeze on farmers, tightening their already thin margins. Fertilizer prices, in particular, have risen significantly this past year, with some individual fertilizer components posting triple digit increases. Increased costs of production are one reason why the UDSA has forecasted a 4.5% drop in net farm income for 2022, when compared to last year.  And when accounting for inflation, net farm income is forecast to fall by nearly 8% compared to last year.

“With inflation affecting most sectors of the economy this year as well as continued declines in government assistance for pandemic relief, we can expect farmers to be concerned about their bottom-line heading into the 2022/23 crop year,” Johansson said before giving his presentation.

While input costs continue to rise, sugar prices have generally fallen in real terms when accounting for inflation, despite being an essential ingredient in many foods.

“Refined sugar prices have fallen by 35 percent in real terms over the past 40 years,” Johansson said.

U.S. sugar policy has allowed America’s sugar producers to invest in on-farm and factory improvements to become even more efficient and more sustainable. Per acre yields for sugarbeet and sugarcane have both sharply increased over the past 20 years, with the industry overall producing 16 percent more sugar on 11 percent less land.

Still, America’s sugar producers and our American-made supply of sugar are under threat from both growing economic pressures and efforts to undermine America’s successful sugar policy.

Johansson underscored the importance of maintaining a strong sugar policy as Congress begins deliberating the 2023 Farm Bill. U.S. sugar policy protects family farms and good American jobs, and rural and urban communities, while supporting our national food security by providing a stable supply chain, all at no cost to taxpayers.

“Another benefit of U.S. sugar policy is the development of resilient supply chains for America’s sugar supplies,” Johansson said. “We have seen throughout the pandemic how our sugar companies were able to quickly redirect sugar supplies to where they were needed. Maintaining our current program that allows our farmers to harvest, refine, and store sugar until it is needed is a key component of that resilient supply chain.”

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.”

We ♥ America’s Sugar Producers

As lovebirds around the world are celebrating Valentine’s Day, agricultural economists are gathering today in New Orleans at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association’s (SAEA) annual meeting not far from the old grounds of the Louisiana Sugar and Rice Exchange. One of the papers being presented at SAEA is a new study analyzing the relationship between sugar prices and the retail cost of sugar-containing-products.

Drs. Karen DeLong and Carlos Trejo-Pech, agricultural economics professors from the University of Tennessee, took the stage this morning at the SAEA meeting to present the findings from their latest study on sugar. Contrary to long-standing claims from corporate candy companies, the researchers found that the prices charged for sweetened products, such as a box of Valentine’s chocolates, are not tied to the price that food manufacturers pay for sugar.

In other words, when corporate food manufacturers source sugar at higher or lower costs, they don’t change the prices they charge consumers for their sugar-containing-products.

Drs. DeLong and Trejo-Pech are no strangers to sugar policy. They previously found that U.S. sugar prices did not harm the financial performance of food manufacturers in an independent and peer-reviewed study published in Agricultural and Food Economics

The researchers pointed to the affordability of sugar as one factor why. Despite being a primary ingredient in the products they analyzed, sugar accounted for less than 2.6 percent of a product’s price, on average. For example, a $1.49 chocolate bar contains less than two cents worth of sugar.

“U.S. sugar policy does not harm sugar-using firms,” the researchers concluded in their most recent study, firmly rejecting the tired arguments made by corporate candy companies and farm policy critics in their attempts to gut sugar policy.

America’s sugar policies are designed to ensure that we always have a reliable and affordable supply of sugar – all at no cost to taxpayers. Those policies prevent heavily subsidized foreign producers from dumping their excess sugar on our market while maintaining America’s position as the 3rd largest sugar importer in the world. The strong supply chain for sugar built by American sugarcane and sugarbeet farmers and workers allowed refined sugar supply streams to meet the new demands for retail sugar driven by COVID-19. The American sugar industry pivoted quickly to shift 99,000 tons of sugar from manufacturing to retail consumers in the first three months of the pandemic, equivalent to about 50 million extra 4-lb bags of sugar at the grocery store.

So, this Valentine’s Day, we’re sending a love note to America’s sugar farmers and workers.

Thank you for making our Valentine’s Day so sweet. We appreciate all that you do to contribute to our local communities, the rural economy, and our national food security.

America’s sugar producers: U Rock.

American Farm Bureau Federation Backs No-Cost Sugar Policy

America’s largest farm advocacy group renewed its support of a no-cost sugar policy that creates a level playing field for sugar producers while ensuring a safe, reliable and affordable supply for consumers.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) issued its policy resolution in support of the U.S. sugar policy at its convention in Atlanta. The convention marks the 103rd consecutive gathering of America’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses.

The convention helps set the agenda in Washington for the leading voice in agriculture while giving members the inside scoop on ag policies and perspectives.

American Sugar Alliance was honored to be among the invited guests.

AFBF’s policy resolution supports critical concepts in the sugar policy, including:

  • A program to protect the interests of domestic sugar producers and recommend that any appropriate legislation should include a sugar title with provisions that ensure a strong and economically viable domestic sugar industry
  • USDA publishing monthly USDA-validated reports on Mexico sugar consumption, production, processing, exports, imports, and non-food use, similar to reports available in the United States
  • Domestic allocations should be distributed to sugar from domestically produced cane or beets to their respective sectors before increasing import allocations

AFBF has long supported the no-cost U.S. sugar policy – most recently backing the policy in the 2018 Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer loans to domestic producers to provide for orderly marketing. The loans are repaid with interest and there are no subsidy checks so the policy operates at no cost to taxpayers.

If too much sugar is produced, U.S. producers store the excess at their own expense. If more sugar is needed, additional sugar can be quickly imported. USDA monitors the amount of sugar produced domestically along with the sugar imported through existing trade deals which provide preferential access to 41 countries. The U.S. is the 5th largest producer, 3rd largest importer and 3rd largest sugar market in the world.

“We applaud American Farm Bureau Federation’s renewed support of no-cost U.S. sugar policy,” said Luther Markwart, chairman of the American Sugar Alliance. “We look forward to once again having AFBF as a strong partner as we advocate for America’s sugar producers in the 2023 Farm Bill.”

Baby oysters, water reductions part of Domino Sugar’s sustainability efforts

From raising baby oysters in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to cutting water usage at the Yonkers refinery, Domino Sugar is a leader in sustainability.

Dr. Daryl Sabourin, ASR Group’s Global Director of Sustainability, is part of the effort to raise baby oysters in Baltimore that eventually help filter water in the Chesapeake Bay.

“They’re literally nature’s wastewater treatment plant,” he said. “So, an adult oyster can usually filter about 50 gallons of water a day.”

For generations the sturdy Domino Sugar bag has lined grocery store shelves promising to safely deliver home the sweetness inside.

To make the sugar bag more sustainable, the packaging team at Domino Sugar designed a 4-pound bag that uses one-ply paper instead of two-ply paper.

The new bag uses special paper that works with the company’s existing packaging machines. It turned out stronger than the old bag even with less paper. And the difference was unnoticeable to consumers.

“We really wanted it to be invisible to the end user,” said John Monroe, Director of Packaging Engineering. “And sometimes those are the best changes.”

The change is projected to save 600,000 pounds of paper annually or a 20 percent reduction in paper use.

“For us it really impacts the overall viability of the organization because you know we do have that agriculture component to it and if we’re not taking sustainable steps for the overall health of the planet we can’t survive as a business,” Monroe said. “We have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to sustainability so it’s always something that is on the forefront of our mind.”

For the fourth year in a row, ASR Group’s Domino Sugar Refinery employees partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to raise about 150,000 baby oysters.

Volunteers from Domino Sugar in the Inner Harbor raise the baby oysters and transport them to a sanctuary reef in the Patapsco River, where they help filter water headed for the Chesapeake Bay.

“They’re going to sit there for another 20 years and there’s 150,000 of them treating 50 gallons of water a day. You’re looking at about seven and a half million gallons of water that just is treated by nature’s own device,” he said.

The effort has been so popular with volunteers, the refinery hopes to double the size of its oyster garden in the Inner Harbor.

“It’s got to be everybody actively pursuing sustainable development,” Sabourin said. “Whether it be in oyster gardening or whether it be optimization of the facility’s resource use, it’s got to be really a combined effort and I just consider myself very lucky each year to get the invite to come help out.”

In New York, ASR Group’s Yonkers Refinery is also taking steps to protect the water.

The team at ASR Group’s Yonkers Refinery installed water meters all over the facility and reexamined every process to find ways to reduce or reuse water.

Cold water that once left the plant after a single use is now heated for hot water needs. Steam and vapor is captured. Water used to rinse off sugar resin is cleaned and put back into service elsewhere.

The end result is a 24 percent reduction in water use.

“It’s just something that I know the city of Yonkers knows about it’s something they’re proud of,” said Elizabeth Mendonca, Yonkers Refinery Manager. “I hope that people in Yonkers do know all the things that we’re doing to be more sustainable and support our local community. We’re trying to bring the water usage down overall in Yonkers so that we’re all benefiting from it.”

Domino Sugar invests in a new sign and a new sugar bag as part of sustainability commitment

Domino Sugar recently made big changes to two of its most iconic fixtures as part of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

Domino’s iconic sign has been a beacon of pride and prosperity in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for generations. But at 70 years old, the sign was showing its age. Its old neon bulbs were never fully lit, and it was getting harder to find people to replace them.

The company decided to upgrade the sign to LED lighting. After a few months of being down for only the second time in its history, the sign was back in a new, more sustainable way.

The new LED sign reduces energy use by 33,000 kilowatts a year and reduces more than 23 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Domino Sugar unveiled the new sign on the Fourth of July with fireworks and dignitaries.

“We had our longest employed personnel light the sign. Charlotte Hardy works in our lab, and has been here over 50 years, so it was an honor for her,” said Coricka White, Baltimore Refinery Manager.

And it was an honor for White.

“I was truly honored to be able to not only bring the sign back to Baltimore but to do it in a more sustainable and a more efficient way,” White said.

For generations the sturdy Domino Sugar bag has lined grocery store shelves promising to safely deliver home the sweetness inside.

To make the sugar bag more sustainable, the packaging team at Domino Sugar designed a 4-pound bag that uses one-ply paper instead of two-ply paper.

The new bag uses special paper that works with the company’s existing packaging machines. It turned out stronger than the old bag even with less paper. And the difference was unnoticeable to consumers.

“We really wanted it to be invisible to the end user,” said John Monroe, Director of Packaging Engineering. “And sometimes those are the best changes.”

The change is projected to save 600,000 pounds of paper annually or a 20 percent reduction in paper use.

“For us it really impacts the overall viability of the organization because you know we do have that agriculture component to it and if we’re not taking sustainable steps for the overall health of the planet we can’t survive as a business,” Monroe said. “We have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to sustainability so it’s always something that is on the forefront of our mind.”

America’s sugar farmers and workers continue to build a brighter future by producing sugar, sustainably.

Get the Facts

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.

What’s in Your Halloween Haul?

After a truly spooky year, Americans plan on celebrating Halloween in a big way. Expected spending on candy is projected to hit $3 billion.

This Halloween, don’t be tricked by candy corporations. They want to send U.S. sugar policy to the grave so they can buy unlimited amounts of subsidized foreign sugar. They’ll try to tell you a haunting tale, but the truth is that U.S. sugar policy has provided stable sugar prices and a reliable domestic source for an essential ingredient – even throughout a global pandemic that has snarled global supply chains.

That means you’ll be ready to fill the bags of all the trick-or-treaters who come knocking at your door on Halloween.

While corporate confectioners want to spook you into thinking that sugar policy is hurting their Halloween profits, the reality is that sugar is only a small part of the cost of your Halloween haul. (Not to mention, a peer-reviewed study recently said “Boo!” to that claim, finding that sugar policy does not impede the profitability of sugar-using manufacturers.)

We analyzed some favorite Halloween candies and found that America’s hardworking farmers and workers will receive just pennies for these sweet treats. Now, that should send a chill up your spine.

Follow along with us on Facebook and Twitter while we unmask how little sugar producers will receive this Halloween.

For example, a bag of candy corn that costs $1.59 contains less than $0.11 of sugar. One serving of candy corn contains less than $0.02 of sugar. The farmer who grew that sugar will receive even less.

A $4.99 bag of peanut butter cups contains about $0.13 of sugar, adding up to less than $0.01 of sugar in each sweet treat.

A fun-sized bag of chocolate candies is the perfect size to toss in a trick-or-treater’s bag, but what’s not so fun is how little sugar producers receive for the sugar in that candy. Two fun-sized bags will run about $0.40, with less than one penny going to sugar producers.

A bag of lollipops will cost you $3.29, with just $0.17 going back to the sugar producer. But how many pennies of sugar does it take to produce a lollipop? Just one.

A $13.99 bag of chocolate kisses contains just $0.47 of sugar. That amounts to a ghoulish $0.01 per serving for our sugar farmers and workers.

A package of chewy fruit candy costs $4.29 and contains less than $0.20 of sugar. That’s less than $0.01 per Halloween-treat-sized serving going back to the sugar farmers who grew the sugar crop.

This Halloween, we’ll be thanking the sugar farmers still hard at work in the fields harvesting and the workers who will make those crops into sugar.
On behalf of America’s sugar producers, have a very happy – and sweet – Halloween!

Driving Climate-Smart Farm Technology: One Woman’s Work Towards a Sustainable Future

What if you could build a diesel engine equivalent to the strength of 600 horses that produced almost no emissions? It might seem like a futuristic dream, but it’s already been made possible thanks in part to the hard work of one sugarbeet farmer.

RaNae Isaak, an engineer at Cummins, has helped design more efficient engine systems for the tractors used on sustainable farms across the country. Her personal connection to agriculture has been a driving force behind her success.

“My history growing up always involved being around my family and doing what we loved, farming,” she says.

RaNae grew up on a farm in southeastern Idaho, where her family grew sugarbeets, alfalfa, grain, sorghum, and corn as well as raised livestock. This is where she was first introduced to the incredible mechanics and engineering that power farm vehicles.

RaNae recalls her father using a front end loader to lift one ton hay bales in an alfalfa field and load them on a flatbed semi-truck that she drove. Her father would give quick lessons on the farm’s machinery: how to operate machinery safely and maintain it so it kept working smoothly.

“I have always been intrigued by a challenge. Trying to figure out something complicated, understanding why things work, and how to fix them,” RaNae says. “I always enjoyed math and science, and routinely excelled. Being around agriculture just further identified a way for me to apply math and science.”

That love for agriculture, math, and science followed her to Idaho State, where she earned first a bachelor’s and then a master’s in mechanical engineering, and now fuels her work at Cummins, where she helps develop on-highway and off-highway engines.

In her 15 years at Cummins, one thing RaNae has learned is that building new technology is not easy. Especially farm technology. It needs to work efficiently and reliably in all types of conditions.

“Not only does the engine need to work and be productive, but it needs to work through extreme conditions. It needs to start when it’s incredibly cold, it needs to be cool when it’s oppressively hot, so it needs to be able to operate in all conditions,” RaNae says.

Not to mention, an engine is not just an engine, but an integral part of the entire vehicle system.

“Whether that be an agriculture tractor transferring the power and torque to the ground that pulls massive planting and harvesting equipment, or an irrigation pump that transfers water to hundreds of acres of crops in a dry environment,” RaNae explains. “It’s not just an engine system that must be designed, but in this case it’s a farm machine system that needs to be integrated in a way that performs the task the way the farmer needs done in that seasonal condition.”

Cummins has developed diesel engines that not only meet these requirements but do so with near-zero emissions. They’re also working on alternative off-highway engine solutions that use fuel sources such as natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells and electric batteries.

The results have been incredible.

“I am not sure people really understand how much emissions reduction has occurred over the last 30 years,” RaNae says. “If you think about this in accumulated emissions, it would take 25 tractors for a sugarbeet harvest today to equal the nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions produced by just one tractor in 1997.”

New, more efficient tractors can now harvest 100 acres with the same emissions it would have taken to harvest just one acre back then.

In other words, the tractors used by farmers today are radically better for our environment.

RaNae is proud to work for a company that is on the forefront of innovation and advocates for lower emissions throughout the supply chain. Her background in agriculture has strengthened her commitment to the environment.

As a consumer of our agriculture, a designer of past and present engineering and a part of many farm family traditions, I realize the importance of our land, our livelihood, and the way things have been and could be,” RaNae says.

If you’re in Idaho, you just might see RaNae in a sugarbeet field behind the wheel of a tractor powered by a Cummins engine. She’s an Amalgamated Sugar shareholder and still makes time to help with planting and harvesting, when she isn’t working towards a more sustainable and climate-smart future.

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.

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.).

Farm Bill Policies Keep Sustainable Family Farms Alive

Across the country, there are 11,000 family farmers that grow sugarbeets and sugarcane. Many of these farms have been passed down from generation to generation.

In Boulder County, Colorado, generations of experience are building a more sustainable future. Paul Schlagel is a fourth-generation farmer whose family has farmed the same land for 100 years.

Paul serves as the Chairman of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association Biotechnology and Research Committee and is an advocate for modern, sustainable farming.

And the Schlagel family farm has certainly changed over the past 100 years, largely thanks to some incredible advances in technology.

About 10 years ago, the farm moved to a more sustainable sprinkler system. This allows the farm to use 30 percent less water.

“We’re using less fuel and the sprinklers are key to being able to apply nutrients more accurately and throughout the season,” Paul said.

In Idaho, Galen Lee always knew he wanted to be a farmer. He’s the fourth generation on the family farm, working in partnership with his parents.

“You know they say you can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy,” Galen said. “It’s some long days and hard hours but there’s a lot of rewards in it.”

Galen noted that there have been many changes on the farm since he was a boy. More climate-smart practices and data-driven decisions have put Galen and other farmers on the forefront of the fight to conserve our natural resources.

“To me, it is making sure that that soil that I’m working here is just as productive as it can be and as productive as it can be 20 years from now just like my grandfather took care of it,” Galen said.

Galen credits America’s no-cost sugar policy and other Farm Bill programs with creating a reliable environment for farm producers in invest in sustainability.

“If we didn’t have the Farm Bill… and the sugar policy that we have, it’d be pretty uncertain and be pretty hard to keep doing what we’re doing,” Galen stated. “Makes all the difference in the world… keeps not only sugarbeets but all of agriculture alive.”

Seeding a Sustainable Future

Every year, America’s farmers do something incredible: they nurture a small seed or sprout until harvest in order to provide all of us with an affordable supply of food.

For sugarbeet growers, a sugarbeet seed is not only the starting point for the production of sugar, but is also an important part of sugar’s sustainability story.

Idaho sugarbeet grower Liz Bingham knows the immense power that a tiny sugarbeet seed holds.

Originally from Wisconsin, Liz now farms alongside her husband Cody on their family farm in south central Idaho. As a farmer, and a mom of four, she is passionate about creating a more sustainable future.

The introduction of bioengineered sugarbeets has helped the Binghams produce a sustainable, safe, affordable and reliable crop by giving them a tool to reduce weeds while using less herbicides.

“[The sugarbeet] is no longer competing for sunlight from weeds, and also space and water, so the beet is growing in just about as ideal of conditions as we can get for the soil that we have,” Liz said.

For the Bingham family – and sugarbeet growers across the country – bioengineered sugarbeet seeds are an incredible advancement. And indispensable to their farming operation.

“If you were to now go to a farmer that has sugarbeets on their farm and say ‘Look, we are going to now give you only conventional beets and go back to the old system,’ it would be the equivalent of taking a smartphone out of our hands and handing us a rotary phone,” Liz explained.

The development of sugarbeet seeds takes an immense amount of technology, hard work and time. For beet seed companies, developing a new, viable variety of sugarbeet seed can take up to a decade.

Seed companies take desired traits from existing seeds to improve the sugarbeet seeds for today’s environment. The goal is better plant performance, higher yields of sugar and increased efficiency.

“Humans have always done this. We’ve taken what we’ve found available to us and we’ve adopted it to use to further our survivability and increase the productivity of the crops that we use,” said Mark Schmidt, Vice President of Sales at KWS Seeds. “That’s enabled us to thrive on our planet.”

For seed companies, researchers and farmers, science holds the answers to a more sustainable future.

From a tiny seed to the sugar on your table, we are thankful for the sugar farmers, workers and researchers who make producing #SugarSustainably possible.

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.

Waste Not: From Sugarcane Waste to Sustainable Power Source

Louisiana is known for its flat bayous – not exactly its rolling hills.

But outside each of Louisiana’s 11 sugar mills, there stands a hill of bagasse. Bagasse is the fibrous material that’s left over after the sugar juice is squeezed out of sugarcane stalks.

American BioCarbon is a Louisiana-based company that’s helping turn bagasse into a sustainable energy source as well as a carbon-rich product that can be returned to the soil.

Bagasse has long been used in the sugarcane industry to fuel boilers, producing steam and bioelectricity to power company operations. Many companies even place excess power from this process onto the electrical grid to help light local communities.

Bagasse can be used as a renewable fuel source or soil additive with economic and environmental benefits.

But in its bulk form, bagasse can be difficult – and expensive – to transport.

American BioCarbon saw an opportunity to create a dense, transportable energy source that doesn’t have to be used onsite but can be shipped to anyone in the world. They process the bagasse into compressed, portable pellets.

“Bagasse is a natural co-product of sugar production. But the bagasse that the mills aren’t able to use is sometimes discarded as waste. By giving the bagasse a second life as a renewable fuel source, we’re benefiting both the environment and the sugarcane industry,” said Joshua Hockman, Vice President of Business Development for American BioCarbon.

The company began with a pilot plant at the Cora-Texas sugar mill. There, they are currently demonstrating their process to transform bagasse waste into environmentally beneficial products such as biofuel pellets for renewable energy production, absorbent pellets for environmental remediation and biochar to help improve the productivity of the sugarcane and other crop lands.

“We’re proud to meet the growing global demand for sustainable energy sources. And by manufacturing our products from what might otherwise be a waste, right at the mill where the feedstock is generated, we have increased efficiency and lowered our carbon footprint even further,” Hockman said.

In addition to renewable fuel pellets, American BioCarbon also produces biochar and absorbent pellets.  Biochar captures carbon from the sugarcane plant and is then returned to the field to improve water retention, decrease runoff, improve nutrient retention and soil carbon content, and increase crop resiliency. Biochar sequesters carbon in the soil that would have otherwise been released if the bagasse were left to decompose naturally.

The grassy structure of bagasse makes it excellent at absorbing liquid.  American BioCarbon’s absorbent pellets soak up four times their weight in water, making them an ideal solution for landfill remediation, Oil & Gas remediation, and other uses.

American BioCarbon has big dreams and sees a bright future for the expanded use of bagasse. They’re planning on building a full-scale plant, ready in time to turn the waste from the 2022 crop into the energy source of the future.

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.”

Louisiana Sugar Producers Geaux Sustainable

In south Louisiana, the sugarcane grows high and the heritage of the sugarcane industry runs deep.

For nearly 130 years, generations of Louisiana sugar workers have refined raw sugar at the Louisiana Sugar Refining (LSR) refinery in Gramercy, Louisiana.

The American Sugar Alliance recently spoke to Larry Faucheux, CEO of LSR, about the contributions that the LSR refinery have made to a strong Louisiana and how LSR is moving its sustainability practices forward. This is the latest video in our ongoing series to document the many ways that sugar farmers and workers across the country produce #SugarSustainably.

The story of the sugar being refined at the LSR refinery starts on the farm. Approximately 800 Louisiana sugarcane farmers grow the sugarcane crops that are then turned into raw sugar at eight mills. These mills send their raw sugar to the LSR refinery, which produces the crystalized white sugar that most people are familiar with.

A lot of sugar, in fact. The LSR refinery produces six million pounds of sugar a day.

It’s truly a local business. All of the sugarcane farmers that supply the LSR refinery grow their crops within a 110-mile radius of the refinery. Most of the 400 refinery workers live within 10 miles of the refinery – and for many, their family histories are intertwined with the refinery’s history.

“The attraction for me to this refinery has always been the heritage of it,” Faucheux says. “Many people who work here have third, fourth and fifth generation heritage.”

Faucheux is the third generation in his family to work in the refinery.

Knowing the role that the refinery plays in supporting local families and Louisiana’s economy has driven LSR to continue its investment in sustainable practices.

“LSR’s view of sustainability is one of three different pillars that need to be followed. They include an economic pillar, an environmental pillar and a social pillar,” Faucheux explained.

LSR has worked with third-party organizations to certify its sustainability practices. It partnered with the global organization Sedex to ensure the refinery was fulfilling sustainable requirements. At the farm level, LSR uses a program called the SAI Platform to measure sustainability in the field.

“LSR truly believes that in order for us to be sustainable there should be a good supply chain in place that takes it from the plant itself in the field all the way to the customer and therefore we have worked very hard in both directions. We sit between the customer and that plant that is in the field,” Faucheux said.

With the efforts that the LSR refinery has made to further improve its environmental practices, strengthen its economic impact and support the strong social fabric of Louisiana’s communities, we have no doubt that the refinery will still be producing sugar sustainably in another 130 years.

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.”

Spring is Here, Bringing Sugar Forecasts

Column authored by Dr. Robert Johansson, Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance.

The vernal equinox, aka spring equinox, came and went Saturday, March 20, marking the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

As all good aggies know, that means the economists at the Food and Agricultural Policy Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri just published their new 10-year baseline for agricultural production and programs.

That baseline is adjusted by University of Missouri economists to reflect more recent 2021 prices and economic conditions compared to the earlier USDA’s baseline published in part in November and in full in February.

From a sugar perspective, the equinox also marks the tail end of the sugarcane harvest (with some acres left to harvest yet in Florida) and the beginning of sugarbeet planting in 10 states and the sugarbeet harvest in southern California. Taking stock:

  • we expect a record sugarcane harvest at 4.24 million tons in 2020/21, despite the multitude of tropical storms battering Gulf Coast shores last year; and
  • we could see a record year in 2021/22 for sugarbeets, currently forecast by FAPRI at more than 5.13 million tons.

​With the larger than expected 2020/21 production for both beet and cane along with imports mandated by trade agreements, the current USDA forecast projects a more than adequate supply of sugar to fulfill our nation’s needs.

Looking forward, FAPRI expects overall sugar demand to grow by more than 1.3 million tons over the next 10 years. That demand growth is roughly twice the expected growth in domestic production, but U.S. sugar policy gives 41 countries, most of them developing nations, preferential access to our market to ensure that consumers always stay stocked with sugar. In fact, the U.S. is the third largest sugar importer in the world. That should keep domestic prices at roughly the same levels over the next 10 years.

While FAPRI does not explicitly discuss government program costs for sugar, USDA projects a sugar program cost of $0 for taxpayers over the next 10 years.

However, with any good economic forecast there are both positives and negatives. An area worth keeping an eye on is rising costs of production. Both FAPRI and USDA expect agricultural costs of production to continue to increase over the next 10 years. FAPRI has costs rising by 19% and USDA has costs rising by 12% over the baseline period. For producers in all sectors, who face flat prices and rising costs of production, it is likely we’ll see additional borrowing as margins get squeezed. And, indeed, FAPRI projects overall debt-to-asset ratios creeping up to 15.6% by 2030 (which would be the highest since 1991 if realized).

In the face of rising input costs and flat prices, it is critical that Congress continue to back a strong no-cost sugar policy in order to support an essential domestic industry and maintain a safe and reliable supply of quality sugar.

Sugar Producers Applaud Recent Comments by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai

Newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai recently signaled strong support for America’s sugar producers and affirmed her commitment to America’s no-cost sugar policy, sending cheers throughout sugar country.

In written comments submitted to the Senate Finance Committee following her confirmation hearing, Tai responded to inquiries from several senators asking how she would handle trade issues pertaining to sugar, considering the heavily subsidized nature of the global sugar market.

“Any reforms I pursue regarding the global sugar market will be consistent with maintaining the current no-cost U.S. sugar policy,” Tai stated in response to a question from Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) asking how she would approach reforming the distorted global market.

In response to a follow-up question from Senator Barrasso about how to utilize the World Trade Organization (WTO) to secure a multilateral approach to sugar reform, Tai stated that updates to the WTO rules would be needed to effectively target foreign subsidization.

“WTO rules need to be updated to reflect long-standing agricultural issues that have not been rectified under the WTO’s current construction. I will work with like-minded partners to ensure that any new rules are consistent with U.S. domestic sugar goals,” Tai wrote.

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) asked Tai about Brazil’s recent attempts to trade increased access to its market for certain commodities in exchange for allowing Brazil to send more subsidized sugar to our shores. Tai firmly stated that under her watch, she will not tolerate other nations trying to pit American agriculture against itself.

“In my testimony, I emphasized that no U.S. stakeholder should be prioritized over another during trade negotiations,” Tai said. “If confirmed, I commit to ensuring that no new agricultural market access comes at the expense of other agricultural stakeholders.”

These comments are bad news for mega-subsidizer Brazil, which benefits from direct and indirect subsidies valued at an estimated $2.5 billion per year to prop up its sugar industry – and who has long hoped to flood our market with its subsidized sugar. In fact, widespread production- and trade-distorting foreign subsidies, including from top offenders Brazil, India, and Thailand, have led to rampant overproduction and sugar prices below the costs of production.

Tai also stated that “U.S. trade policy must benefit domestic agricultural producers and provide consumers and food manufacturers with a safe and secure domestic food supply. I will make this a central pillar of any agricultural trade policy I pursue.”

Tai’s commitment to supporting domestic agricultural producers and assurance that sugar access won’t be unilaterally traded away in future trade negotiations is welcome news for America’s sugar farmers and workers.

That’s because not only do America’s sugar producers keep America supplied with an essential ingredient, they also support 142,000 jobs in 22 states and generate $20 billion in annual economic activity. Without a strong U.S. sugar policy, the dysfunctional and heavily subsidized world sugar market would jeopardize the livelihoods of American sugar producers and the American consumers and small businesses who depend on them.

America’s sugar farmers and workers once again congratulate Ambassador Tai on her confirmation as the U.S. Trade Representative. We look forward to partnering with 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.

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.”

Zero Dollars

America’s sugar policy is designed to cost taxpayers nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

That seems like a pretty sweet deal. But how exactly does U.S. sugar policy work? It’s simple:

  1. The U.S. is the 5th largest producer and 3rd largest importer in the world.
  2. Existing trade deals provide preferential access to 41 countries, with the U.S. importing as much as 1/3 of consumption needs in recent years.
  3. The Farm Bill authorizes USDA to offer loans to domestic producers to provide for orderly marketing.
  4. Because loans are repaid with interest and there are no subsidy checks, the policy operates at $0 cost to taxpayers.
  5. If too much sugar is produced, U.S. producers store the excess at their own expense.
  6. If more sugar is needed, additional sugar can be quickly imported.

That policy gives sugar producers stability and predictability, allowing farmers and workers to keep America supplied with a reliable supply of high-quality sugar.

Our efficient industry, backed by a strong and flexible sugar policy, helped us respond to the challenges of 2020. To ensure store shelves stayed stocked during the first six months of the pandemic, sugar producers quickly shifted 90,000 tons of sugar from commercial outlets to consumer packaging. That means sugar producers redirected the equivalent of 45,000,000 four-pound sugar bags to store shelves in order to keep your pantry stocked.

Americans find sugar to be affordable, too, with a recent survey finding that 63 percent of Americans believe sugar is not expensive at all. A pound of sugar today costs about $0.65 – that’s down about 20 percent over the past 40 years when accounting for inflation.

Importantly, without a strong sugar policy, American sugar farmers and workers would be facing competition from a massively distorted global sugar market wrecked by foreign subsidies. While the countries below are among the worst offenders, market-disrupting policies are commonplace in most countries around the world.

On the global market, sugar prices barely cover half the average cost of producing sugar – a result of over-production and trade-distorting subsidies. Mega-subsidizers like Brazil, Thailand, and India flood and distort the world market with their surplus sugar using government subsidies and policies – in some cases in apparent violation of international trade obligations.

That’s why Congress has repeatedly rebuffed attempts to dismantle America’s no-cost sugar policy, most recently by an overwhelming 141-vote margin in the House.

All this at no cost to taxpayers? Now that’s smart policy.

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.”

Meet America’s Sugar Producers

Growing up, fourth-generation farmer Makelle Pinsonat rode in the tractor alongside her parents in the sugarcane fields of Louisiana. Now, Makelle is raising her own family on the farm.

“It’s in your blood. It’s in your heart,” Makelle says. “It’s a privilege to be able to say, ‘I’m a United States sugarcane farmer.’”

Across the country, Montana farmer Ervin Schlemmer is a fourth-generation sugarbeet farmer who cherishes the time spent working as a family.

“It’s something that puts a good feeling right here in my heart to know that’s what we are all about,” Ervin says.

Makelle and Ervin are two of the 11,000 farmers and farm families who grow sugarcane and sugarbeets across the country and whose stories are featured on the brand-new website: Those farmers – many of them multi-generational farmers, whose families have been farming the same land for more than 100 years – produce about nine million tons of sugar a year on two million acres.

Those crops are then made into high-quality sugar by America’s skilled sugar workers and efficiently distributed to consumers and food manufacturers across the country. In total, America’s sugar industry supports 142,000 jobs and adds $20 billion to the U.S. economy while keeping America supplied with an essential ingredient. And sugar production is increasingly sustainable – with current U.S. production up 16 percent over the past 20 years while using 11 percent less land.

It’s incredible to see the coast-to-coast reach of America’s sugar producers.

None of this would be possible without America’s no-cost sugar policy. This policy supports America’s family farmers like Makelle and Ervin and gives them the stability to efficiently meet our nation’s sugar needs.

Research in Louisiana Supports Sustainable Sugarcane Production

America’s sugar producers are constantly working to develop new technologies to further our mission to produce sugar, sustainably. These advances in technology not only help protect the environment, they also help sugar growers increase efficiencies and stay profitable.

Louisiana State University (LSU) is at the forefront of sustainable sugarcane production. Dr. Kenneth Gravois is a sugarcane specialist at the LSU AgCenter who works to improve sugarcane varieties. As the son and grandson of farmers, making a difference in an industry that is at the heart of his community is a personal mission, as well.

The goal of Dr. Gravois’ research is to increase yields with varieties that provide more tons of cane per acre or higher sucrose levels. Or protect yields with varieties that are disease and insect resistant.

“We are spraying a whole lot less insecticide today than we were 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 50 years ago,” Dr. Gravois says.

Using less inputs helps both the environment and the farmers’ bottom line, which encourages broader adoption of new technologies or sugarcane varieties.

“We want our growers to be economically sustainable, our markets want a crop every year, so they have to be economically viable,” Dr. Gravois explains.

Keith Dugas is a sugarcane grower that is working with LSU to study a new technology called Green Seeker that allows farmers to apply precise amounts of nitrogen just where it’s needed.

Sensors use infrared light to determine the sugarcane’s Normalized Difference Vegetation Index – or NDVI – which identifies the stress level of plants throughout a given field and determines how much nitrogen each plant needs.

Keith farms land passed down through his family but remarks that if his dad or grandpa could see the technology he is using today “they wouldn’t believe it.”

Keith echoes Dr. Gravois’ remarks about the need to be both economically and environmentally sustainable.

“For the farmers, things are not getting any cheaper. We need to try to get more efficient and with this new technology I think there are ways we can improve and help the environment,” Keith says.

View our entire video series showcasing the sugar industry’s decades-long commitment to building a brighter future by producing sugar, sustainably.

Teaching Sustainability Using Fast Food

Deep in Louisiana sugarcane country, there lies a giant hamburger. Or rather, a food plot in the shape of a hamburger. Not too far away there are similar gardens in the shape of a hot dog, a box of french fries and a taco.

This is the Fast Food Farm in St. James Parish, a non-profit educational farm started by Denny Hymel more than 20 years ago after realizing that children were increasingly disconnected from the farms where their food comes from.

Each of the shapes above contains the individual crops used to make these common fast food items, while a nearby chicken coop provides eggs. Hands-on activities connect the farm’s school-aged visitors to each plot so they can learn first-hand how food is grown and processed.

“I just felt a great need to create something I can teach them and bring about that awareness of how important agriculture is to everyone,” Denny says.

The Fast Food Farm plays an important role in the sugar industry’s sustainability story. It’s critical that future generations understand not only how agriculture works, but also the importance of protecting the air, land and water that nurtures those crops.

“I’m teaching them how to plant, how to grow their own food. That’s sustainability,” Denny says. “They are growing. They are taking it back to their homes and they are telling their parents I want to grow this in my garden.”

Not only does Denny work with school children to help them learn more about agriculture, but any extra produce or eggs are donated to a local charity to help feed neighbors in need.

In total, approximately 95,000 people have visited the Fast Food Farm over the years. And when the pandemic put a hold on educational field trips, Denny worked quickly to provide children with hundreds of drive through “ag-tivities” in order to provide a safe and socially distant learning opportunity.

View our entire video series showcasing the sugar industry’s decades-long commitment to building a brighter future by producing sugar, sustainably.

The Future of Farming

If you’re interested in seeing what the future of farming looks like, look no further than the sugarcane fields of Louisiana. There, sugarcane farmer Shelby Duplantis and sugar analyst Sandor Garcia are paving new roads for young sugar producers.

Watch their inspiring stories and learn how they’re committed to producing sugar sustainably.

Shelby Duplantis is the fifth generation in her family to farm, working side-by-side with her father to raise sugarcane while also raising her own family.

Shelby didn’t always want to farm. But after attending business school, she saw an opportunity to utilize her education and leverage data to make their family farming operation more efficient and more sustainable every season.

Shelby is proud to be setting a strong example for other women farmers and hopes to see others follow her lead.

“If there were more women in powerful positions, or just where more people could see them, maybe more girls would want to be in farming,” Shelby said.

Sandor Garcia, a sugar analyst at M.A. Patout, entered the sugar industry after college. Originally from El Salvador, Sandor was hired to train with a market analyst who was about to retire.

M.A. Patout runs the oldest family-owned sugar mill in the United States. The company’s namesake, Mary Ann Patout, was one of the most remarkable women in Louisiana history. It’s still a family-oriented company, and Sandor credits the company’s positive culture with being a force for good in his community.

“Obviously whenever you think about sustainability, the environmental part comes to mind. And I think we’ve got that covered,” Sandor says. “But also, I think sustainability means, what are you doing for your employees?”

“That’s part of the sustainability story that needs to be kept in mind, that these jobs are jobs that are good.”

America’s sugar industry supports 142,000 good-paying jobs in more than 20 states across the country. The farmers, workers and communities that rely on sugar are at the very heart of our industry and we’re proud to see how sugar producers like Shelby and Sandor are setting the stage for a more sustainable future.

View our entire video series showcasing the sugar industry’s decades-long commitment to building a brighter future by producing sugar, sustainably.

Troubles in India Cause Price Uncertainty

It’s safe to say that we’re all looking forward to leaving 2020 in the rearview mirror.

Some of the world’s largest sugar subsidizers decided to close out this year the best way they know how – by creating even more uncertainty in an already tumultuous global sugar market.

Troubles in India are contributing to wild swings in global sugar prices, demonstrating once again the importance of U.S. sugar policy that preserves America’s reliable and affordable supply of this essential ingredient.

India’s sugar exports have slid to a halt while the industry waits for the government to announce its export incentive policy. Last year, the country’s scheme covered a multitude of expenses, including marketing expenditures and transportation costs. This totaled an estimated whopping $875 million in subsidies, according to a recent USDA GAIN report. That’s only a portion of the $1.7 billion in direct and indirect government subsidies provided to Indian sugar interests that has put the nation in hot water at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Other crops generally do not have to navigate such a wild rollercoaster of prices or blatant violations of trade rules.

Sugarcane and sugarbeet farmers don’t need to plan next year’s crop while trying to bet on market fluctuations that rise and fall based on the whims and pocketbooks of foreign subsidizers. Thankfully, America’s sugar farmers and workers have the stability of U.S. sugar policy.

Until foreign sugar subsidies and their devastating impact on our farmers and workers are a thing of the past, Congress must continue to protect America’s no-cost sugar policy.

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.”


New Video: Sugar is a Unique Commodity

Sugar is a unique commodity. The unique nature of America’s sugar industry, the robust sugar supply chain and the flexibility of America’s no-cost sugar policy all proved to be a strategic assets when the COVID-19 pandemic introduced new challenges earlier this year.

Sugar farmers and workers pivoted quickly in order to keep America supplied with an essential ingredient. Grocery stores remained stocked and food manufacturing lines kept humming, knowing that they had reliable access to an affordable supply of sugar.

We created a brand-new video as part of our Sugar Shorts series to share what sets sugar apart.

11,000 family farmers from the Red River Valley to the Rio Grande Valley grow sugar crops. And they grow two completely different types of sugar crops – sugarbeets and sugarcane – which are then both refined into the same sugar.

Sugar workers make and package more than 60 different varieties of sugar, which come in a range of sizes from a teaspoon serving to railcars loaded with sugar. America’s sugar companies store this sugar all across the country in strategically located state-of-the-art facilities until food manufacturers and other customers need it.

Not to mention, the majority of those companies are farmer-owned cooperatives, which helps vertically integrate the supply chain from farm to grocery store shelf.

America’s sugar policy is unique, too. The world sugar market is grossly distorted by subsidies. But America’s no-cost sugar policy is built on loans repaid with interest – not subsidy checks – which ensures a secure supply of sugar at no cost to taxpayers.

Now that’s a sweet deal.


Interested in learning more about U.S. sugar policy? Check out the other videos in the Sugar Shorts series.


Get the Facts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that sugar policy will cost $0 over the life of the current Farm Bill.

More facts like these available here and on

On the Tube

Sustainable Technologies Move Texas Sugar Industry Forward

Over the past two years, we’ve been on a mission to document the many ways that the American sugar industry has been delivering on its decades-long commitment to producing sugar, sustainably.

Most recently, prior to the current health crisis, the American Sugar Alliance met with the sugar farmers and workers keeping a vibrant sugar industry alive in Texas. The Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers have made significant investments over the years in sustainable technologies to conserve water and maintain healthy soils.

The importance of these efforts has come into greater focus as the current global health crisis as well as the impact from hurricane season have created new challenges for Texas and underscored the importance of the reliable production of this essential food ingredient.

When Sam Sparks’ grandfather started SRS Farms in the Rio Grande Valley, modern precision agriculture was still generations away.

Times have changed drastically. There wasn’t a whole lot of precision type practices performed back in the day.

“We wanted to find a way to better tailor not only from an economic standpoint but also a productivity standpoint,” Sparks said.

Today, SRS is a very different operation fueled by data on every aspect of farming, including the application of fertilizer. Now, Sparks can apply the precise amount of fertilizer that each specific field requires at any given time.

“This is very much sustainable because instead of applying a blanket rate of fertilizer across a field or across a farm, we are tailoring it not only per area of the farm but per field,” he said.

Water in south Texas is a scare resource, tightly managed and metered out to farms all across the Rio Grande Valley. It’s not like other places, where farmers can plan on plenty of help from the clouds.

“We actually irrigate our cane to live for the next rainfall,” said Eric Bitner, Ag Division Manager for Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers. “That’s exactly what happens.”

Precision ag has so many different meanings, he said. The biggest thing is simply producing more sugarcane with less inputs, such as water. Bitner is helping farmers use a new irrigation system that they can control from their phones using Wi-Fi capabilities.

“Using every millimeter of irrigation water… we can actually use less water and get a good, if not better, product to the sugar mill,” he said.

Because water is so critical to the farming communities that call this region home, keeping that water clean is one of the highest priorities of the sugar cane industry.

At the Rio Grande Valley sugar mill, all of the water that comes from making raw sugar is reused, cleaned or evaporated. Even the water that falls on the mill as rain.

Water that isn’t reused in the process of making raw sugar, is captured and sent to evaporation ponds so that it doesn’t end up in the public waste streams.

“I think it’s very important to be an environmental steward,” said Leonard Simmons, Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers board chairman. “And as not only a cane grower, but as a citizen here in the Rio Grande Valley, I want to make sure that our water resources continue to be good and clean for everybody to use.”

For more information on the sustainability efforts of America’s sugar industry – from the Rio Grande to the Red River Valley and everywhere in between – please visit

Texas Sugarcane Industry Plays Key Role Supporting Communities

It’s been a tough year for sugar farmers and factory workers in the Rio Grande Valley, as first the global health crisis and then the landfall of Hurricane Hanna created new challenges. The Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers are a critical part of these South Texas communities and we have faith that working together, they will continue to support each other during these unprecedented times.

Recovery will not come easily, but the Texan sugar industry has a long history of supporting its neighbors and investing in sustainable communities.

Earlier this year, the American Sugar Alliance traveled to south Texas to get a first-hand look at how the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers give back as a key part of their commitment to sustainability.

For decades, sugar farmers and workers in Texas have been sustainably growing sugar cane and producing raw sugar in this beautiful place. But their commitment to sustainability does not end at the farm gate. They also help ensure that the rural communities in the surrounding area remain strong – a mission that has become even more critical as the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the nation.

Ofelia Gonzales works for Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers processing data in the mill. She’s also a member of the local Rotary and sees the industry’s impact firsthand in the many ways they support the Rotary’s community efforts.

“I’ve always helped in the community at one end or the other,” she said. “The sugar mill is one of our main sponsors for the Rotary.”

The mill is also an important partner with the Ronald McDonald House in Harlingen, Texas.

“It’s all fundraising and donations from the community” said Denise Cantu, the program manager. “They help us with sponsoring our events and they also give us an annual donation at the end of the year. They help with helping the families. And that’s a great feeling that they are here and able to help us. Because it’s very hard to ask for the donations and to be able to run this place. It’s very expensive.”

Of course, sustainability also means a commitment to protecting the resources that allow our farmers to grow sugarcane. And when it’s time for harvest, the farmers in the Rio Grande Valley go big.

“We run 24 hours a day,” said Sean Brashear, CEO of Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers. “That means we harvest 24 hours a day, we deliver 24 hours a day.”

With all that cane comes fiber from leaves and stalks that is removed and piled high. It’s called bagasse and it doesn’t go to waste. This green energy source powers both the massive mill as well as surrounding homes and businesses.

“If everything works well, we produce excess power that we go ahead and distribute on the grid,” he said. “From there, our nearest neighboring town is Santa Rosa, and we go ahead and feed it through Santa Rosa and for the most part we have the potential for supplying 100 percent of the power for Santa Rosa.”

Stay tuned for more videos of the incredible ways that the Texas sugarcane industry is producing sugar, sustainably.

New Podcast Features Sugar Industry’s Community Efforts During COVID-19

Our friends over at Farm Policy Facts have released a new episode of their podcast Groundwork, featuring two sweet stories about how the sugar industry has stepped up during the pandemic.

The episode starts in the middle of a sugarcane field in St. James Parish, Louisiana, where there stands a giant hamburger. Or rather, a farm plot in the shape of a hamburger that is growing each of its component ingredients, such as wheat for the bun or soybeans that will eventually become an ingredient in mayonnaise.

This is the Fast Food Farm, a nonprofit teaching farm, founded by Denny Hymel about 20 years ago to fill a pressing educational need in her community.

The Fast Food Farm teaches children where their food comes from and it was planning one of its largest events of the year when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. While the health crisis shut down schools, it didn’t put a stop to the need to educate the children that normally visit the farm on field trips.

“I’ve got to do something… how do I teach about agriculture to these children when they’re not in school and they can’t come to [the farm],” Denny recalls saying.

So, like any good fast food place, Denny opened a drive-through.

Once a week, for five weeks, Denny put together hundreds of “ag-tivities” and passed them out to local families in order to provide a safe and socially distant learning opportunity. One of the ag-tivities taught children about the lifecycle of butterflies while another provided the materials to put together birdfeeders. Needless to say, they were a huge hit with kids and parents alike.

“It was such a tremendous appreciation from those parents when they came through thanking us for doing this,” she says.

Taking care of the earth, and each other, is a big part of the mission of the Louisiana-based Fast Food Farm. That includes investing in sustainable communities by growing and donating vegetables to a local charity which distributes them to the needy – which they felt was even more critical to continue during COVID-19.

Groundwork then takes a trip up north to Minnesota’s sugarbeet country to hear the incredible steps that American Crystal Sugar Company has taken to help keep their employees safe.

Lisa Borgen, Vice President of Administration at the American Crystal Sugar Company, says the company moved fast to make safety changes in reaction to the pandemic. It posted guidance around the facility early and limited meetings. It was important to American Crystal that they keep their employees healthy and support them during this challenging time.

“We added additional occupational health nurses so that we would have a nurse in every location so that all employees could have a resource to talk to personally,” Lisa said. They also began taking temperatures as soon as they could procure thermometers and mandated masks and other face coverings in their facilities.

“All of those things we felt were critically important to make sure that we weren’t spreading germs around the factory,” Lisa continued. “And additionally, we gave every employee a bank of 40 hours of what we call COVID sick time… because really, we want people to stay home when they’re not feeling well.”

American Crystal also found a way to share its appreciation for its hardworking employees while also supporting community restaurants. American Crystal awarded each of its employees with a $75 gift card for restaurants throughout the Red River Valley.

Keeping the supply of sugar moving to food makers was also important, she says.

“If we were unable to get that get that sugar to [food manufacturers] and they were unable to make those products, then the country as a whole would have a shortage of all the things that people love,” she says. “And sugar isn’t just in cookies and candy and drinks. Sugar is in almost everything you buy on the shelf.”

We know the whole industry is pulling together and working hard to keep our important product available for American consumers, and we are so proud to feature these two incredible sectors of our industry in this month’s Groundwork podcast. Listen to the entire episode here.

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.”

Sour Subsidies Underscore Need for U.S. Sugar Policy

The widespread use of foreign government support and subsidies have contributed to a wildly unpredictable global sugar market. And foreign intervention only continues to rise as nations struggle to prop up their inefficient producers and deal with the overproduction spurred by these very same sugar subsidies. As a result, sugar exports are being dumped by dozens of countries on the world market at prices that are half the cost of producing it world-wide and well below their own countries’ internal consumer prices.

The American Sugar Alliance recently reviewed all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2020 Semi-Annual Sugar GAIN reports and compiled all mentions of the various ways more than 20 foreign governments intervene in their sugar markets into one convenient report.

State run companies. Direct payments. Export subsidies. Government-set prices.

These are just some of the sour policies used for such a sweet crop, especially when compared to America’s successful no-cost policy, which doesn’t rely on subsidies. And all of it is documented in this report.

Let’s look at a snapshot of recent developments affecting sugar sectors in countries around the world, including some covered in the aforementioned 2020 USDA GAIN reports.:

  • Thailand approved a 10 billion baht bailout package for its sugar farmers – that amounts to approximately $323 million.
  • India is reportedly moving ahead with a support package for its sugar industry, estimated to be in the $1.3-$1.6 billion range.
  • A special Sugar Inquiry Commission in Pakistan recently released a report detailing the approximately $177 million in sugar subsidies that have flowed into the coffers of a handful of sugar mills since 1985.
  • So many buyers rushed to get their hands on Brazil’s subsidized sugar, made sweeter by its devalued currency, that the country is currently dealing with a giant container ship traffic jam.
  • Egypt – where most of the sugar processors are state-run companies – have flat out banned sugar imports for the next three months to protect their industry from the volatile prices on the world market.
  • Russia has turned from a major world importer of sugar to a growing exporter, with the government having recently allowed for the establishment of sugar export associations to help facilitate further exports abroad.

Meanwhile, America’s strong no-cost sugar policy protects efficient American sugar farmers and workers and ensures that we maintain an affordable supply of this essential ingredient.

But if we were to unilaterally weaken or cripple this successful policy in the face of rampant subsidization, without passing the Zero-for-Zero Sugar Policy, the more than 142,000 sugar farmers and workers the American sugar industry supports would likely face bankruptcy.

After all, the multigenerational family farmers that grow sugarcane in three states or sugarbeets in 11 states, and all of the factory workers that process sugar, can’t compete against the billions that foreign treasuries dump into the market.

That’s why the American sugar industry is advocating that Congress pass Congressman Ted Yoho’s Zero-for-Zero Sugar Policy (H. Con. Res. 7) to put a stop to the wave of sugar subsides causing market turmoil. It’s a common-sense proposal that would only drop America’s no-cost sugar policy in exchange for the verified elimination of all foreign sugar subsidies.

It’s time for the Zero-for-Zero Sugar Policy.

Sugar Industry Lends Helping Hand to Support Nation’s Recovery

Over the past several months, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our daily routines, but it has not dimmed the hope and giving spirit that shines through America’s sugar industry.

The majority of America’s sugar operations are located in small towns and rural areas, fostering a tightknit relationship between sugar farmers and workers and the communities where they live and work. From day one of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sugar industry has led efforts to feed and protect its neighbors in need.

When Amalgamated Sugar Company found itself with a surplus of masks above and beyond what was required to protect its workers, it donated 2,000 surplus cloth masks to the Boise Rescue Mission Ministries to help protect vulnerable men, woman and children from the spread of COVID-19.

“Amalgamated Sugar’s generous gift of 2,000 face masks provides a timely resource that is so appreciated,” said Reverend Bill Roscoe, president of Boise Rescue Mission Ministries. “I am amazed at their kindness and generosity to the Rescue Mission as we continue to serve people through very difficult circumstances.”

We are so proud of the sweet ways America’s sugar industry has lent a helping hand in support of our nation’s recovery. We’ve profiled many of them already, but are thankful to be able to keep sharing more examples of the humble generosity of our sugar producers.

American Crystal Sugar Company prides itself on the local ties its employees have fostered within the local communities. So, it wanted to find a way to share its appreciation for its hardworking employees as well as support local restaurants that have been affected by COVID-19.

American Crystal awarded each of its nearly 2,000 employees with $75 in gift cards for restaurants throughout the Red River Valley as well as near Sidney, Montana.

Sugar farmers have always been quick to share their blessings by supporting food donation efforts. However, the pandemic has created even greater food insecurity in many of our rural communities. In response, farmers and sugar companies have stepped up efforts to help, including Florida Crystals.

Florida Crystals and its farmers also donated sugar, rice and fresh produce to local hospitals during National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week in gratitude for the dedicated medical professionals on the front lines of this pandemic.

But sugar is more than just a key ingredient for many of the foods we know and love. As distilleries make hand sanitizer to support relief and recovery efforts, sugar companies have donated tens of thousands of pounds of a critical component: sugar.

Florida Crystals joined these ranks with its donation of 42,500 pounds of cane sugar to a local Florida rum distillery to produce and donate hand and surface sanitizer to first responders, hospitals, nursing homes and community members.

This season might look vastly different for our farmers, our factories and our families. The challenges created by the pandemic may be new, but our dedication to preserving vibrant rural communities, farm families and small businesses has long been a tenet of the industry’s commitment to sustainability and will continue to drive our efforts to aid recovery.

We’re all in this together and hope will persevere.

Sugar Industry Sustains Communities During Pandemic

For decades, America’s sugar industry has been proud to be a sustainable economic driver in communities across the country, producing high-quality sugar while providing well-paying jobs. As America comes together to present a united front against the COVID-19 virus, the on-farm and factory jobs the sugar industry supports across America are more important than ever in keeping communities strong and a crucial food ingredient flowing to American families.

The industry is also working on new and creative ways to help other businesses keep their doors open.

Michigan Sugar Company has been hard at work during this pandemic finishing its sugar beet slicing campaign, one of the busiest times of the year, in order to help keep the nation’s supply chain of sugar full. During this difficult season, company officials decided that they wanted to help businesses that were facing a slowdown due to the pandemic.

Michigan Sugar bought 2,600 gift cards from more than 50 restaurants from Michigan communities of Bay City, Caro, Croswell, Sebewaing and Ohio communities of Fremont, Findlay and Toledo.

In total, Michigan Sugar spent $131,000 to give all of its 1,300 employees $100 cards to spend in the community at restaurants that have lost customers.

“We hope this helps ease the pain of this pandemic for those businesses just a little bit,” Michigan Sugar Company Board Chairman Adam Herford told

Sugar farmers and workers are an essential part of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They continue to work hard, despite the uncertainty and risk, in order to keep grocery store shelves stocked and food moving to American consumers.

Michigan Sugar Co. President and CEO Mark Flegenheimer thanked employees for keeping products flowing.

“During this stressful and challenging time related to the COVID-19 pandemic, our employees have stayed focused on the task at hand and shown incredible determination as we continue to produce, package and ship sugar on a daily basis. I can’t thank them enough for the dedication they have shown and the efforts they have made to keep our products flowing into the marketplace,” he said.

America’s sugar farmers and producers’ mission for sustainability fuels their drive to help our nation’s recovery. The industry is focused on providing safe and affordable food and preserving good jobs and the communities that have been built around sugar. Even when disaster – or a pandemic – strikes.

Because if there is anyone who knows resiliency, it’s an American farmer.

As Pastor Gary McNealy, of the Friendship Baptist Church in Harlem, Florida, said: “Farmers always have our backs.”

From Sugar to Sweet Corn: Feeding Our Communities

With their friends and neighbors facing job loss and uncertainty due to COVID-19, U.S. Sugar provided 1,000 crates of green beans as well as fresh Florida orange juice to churches, healthcare providers, and food banks across South Florida. U.S. Sugar isn’t alone in its efforts to keep the community fed by donating truckloads of food.

Across America, sugar growers and producers are stepping up to help sustain local families as economic hardship has increased demands for assistance.

The sugar industry is providing donations to food pantries, ensuring children have access to food programs with the absence of school-based meals and helping feed the elderly who depend on community-based food programs.

The iconic Domino Sugar refinery in Baltimore, Maryland, delivered sugar to Catholic Charities of Baltimore, which was distributed to four food pantries in the city and will be used at Our Daily Bread Employment Center to provide individuals with a daily hot meal.

The Domino Sugar refineries in Chalmette, Louisiana and Yonkers, New York each donated granulated sugar to food banks to be distributed to families in the area.

C&H Sugar in California donated sugar to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, which is working to provide a consistent supply of food to those it serves while also meeting a new and growing need for nourishing meals in the community.

These company efforts supplement the generous donations provided by individual sugar farmers across the country.

As the harm inflicted by COVID-19 on their neighbors grew, South Florida cane farmer Paul Orsenigo and business partner David Basore of Grower’s Management Inc. increased their monthly donation of sweet corn, lettuce and fresh cabbage to a Feed the Hungry food bank in Palm Beach County. Their donations help the food bank feed more than 3,000-5,000 families every day.

Orsenigo and Basore have also donated vegetables to the Place of Hope in Palm Beach Gardens, which supports more than 300 foster children and at-risk youth.

“The need for food has increased dramatically in recent weeks,” Orsenigo said. “We are thankful that we have the opportunity to support those in need by providing healthy and nutritious Glades-grown vegetables to local charities.”

At the American Sugar Alliance, we are grateful to have the opportunity to support the humble and hardworking farmers and workers who make up the American sugar industry. Thank you for the essential work that you continue to perform, and the love and compassion you have displayed for your friends and neighbors during this exceptionally difficult time.

Sugar Producers ‘Have Our Backs’ Amid Pandemic

Volunteers at U.S. Sugar recently donned masks and carefully packed crates brimming full of green beans. Each crate full of fresh produce was destined for a local church or community group.

When the farmers at U.S. Sugar saw that many of their neighbors in the community were facing food insecurity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they knew exactly what to do.

“We are neighbors helping neighbors and trying to share the bounty of our farms with local families when they need it most,” said Judy Sanchez, U.S. Sugar Senior Director for Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. “These communities, where we have lived and raised our families for generations, hold a special place in our hearts.”

In total, they donated more than 120,000 servings of green beans to those who needed it most.

“In this crisis and many others, farmers always have our backs and we are grateful for their hard work growing food for Americans,” said Pastor Gary McNealy, of the Friendship Baptist Church in Harlem, Florida.

While still working in fields and factories to produce an essential food ingredient, sugar farmers and producers across America have also been quietly acting in a multitude of ways to support our communities during this unprecedented pandemic. These extraordinary gestures are an ordinary act for an industry that prides itself on providing a helping hand and investing in sustainable communities.

Now more than ever, that commitment is critical.

Sugar producers have donated nourishing produce to food pantries and sugar to distilleries to produce hand sanitizer. They’ve provided protective equipment to keep frontline health care providers safe. And they’ve purchased gift cards to help local restaurants stay open and employees fed.

The American sugar industry is working in innovative ways to keep our communities strong. We are proud of the generosity of our industry, so we are sharing a small series of stories focused on these inspiring gestures.

Our series will take you around the nation as we chronicle the efforts of the men and women who grow and produce our sugar as they support the national fight against COVID-19.

America’s Sugar Growers are Still Farming

Over the past several months, the world has changed dramatically as we confront an unseen enemy. Despite physical distance and stay-at-home orders, Americans have found new community as together we face uncertainty about what tomorrow may bring.

Even as this pandemic unfolds, we must continue to eat, which means farmers continue to farm. In fact, the federal government declared that farmers and food manufacturers are an essential workforce and a critical part of the national response to COVID-19. Despite the many challenges they currently face, rural America and the nation’s farmers continue to work tirelessly to provide us all with a safe and affordable supply of food.

For the sugarbeet growers who farm in Southern California’s Imperial Valley, harvest must go on.

Southern California sugar growers are unique in that their harvest starts on April 1 and stretches through the summer. They are an essential part of the food supply chain for a significant portion of the Southwest/Pacific markets, as the Imperial Valley growers supply the sugar needs of nearly 7.5 million people who call California home. For perspective, that’s enough sugar to feed the four largest cities in California – Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco – and then some.

“Rural America is not exempt from the anxiety we all feel about the threat that coronavirus poses. However, one thing I am not worried about is America’s food production. I see first-hand every day that agriculture is still moving forward,” sugarbeet grower Suzanne Rutherford said.

“We are thankful for a beautiful sugarbeet crop that, during the next few months’ harvest will again be a driver in our local economy. California sugar will eventually be delivered to our bakery and confectionery customers, and in turn will move as an essential ingredient along the food supply chain to your grocery shelves. Particularly in times like these, I’m proud to be a small but very important part of this supply chain.”

Suzanne and her husband Curt are both multi-generation farmers, whose grandparents arrived in the Imperial Valley at the beginning of the 20th century.

“When we planted sugarbeets here in the Imperial Valley desert last fall, the coronavirus was unheard of. Now, in completely different times, we are ready to begin harvest on April 1, just as we always have,” Curt Rutherford said.

“With the health crisis facing the nation, I feel that the agricultural community will come through and provide a safe, bountiful supply of food and fiber for the nation,” Curt added. “We have millions of Americans depending on our farms and factory to meet their needs.”

Adapting to new challenges is a defining characteristic of rural America and this year’s harvest will be unlike any harvest before as producers take additional measures to protect the health and safety of their growers and workers.

“I’m extremely grateful for a crop to harvest, especially when you consider the recent disaster that happened in other beet growing regions of the United States,” said Von Medearis, President of the California Beet Growers Association. “I feel it’s an honor to be one of the few who can do this.”

Grower Jason Taylor echoed that sentiment, saying, “I feel blessed to do what I do. I really enjoy being able to produce an important part of the American food chain.”

We pray that our beet growers in Southern California have a safe harvest and we are thinking of the farmers all across this country working hard so that we may have the food necessary to nourish our families.

To all of our beet and cane growers, farmers and ranchers, and the essential workers who help bring our food products to market: Thank you for #StillFarming.

Strong Sugar Policy Means Sustainability

Dozens of America’s beet and cane sugar farmers are once again heading to Capitol Hill this week to meet with hundreds of lawmakers and share the importance of protecting America’s no-cost sugar policy.

They’ve left their farms and families behind to travel to Washington because without a strong sugar policy, America’s homegrown sugar industry and the 142,000 jobs it supports would not be able to compete against subsidized foreign sugar dumped onto the U.S. market.

But America’s no-cost sugar policy does more than protect producers against foreign subsidies and provide Americans with a reliable and affordable supply of sweet sugar. It also allows America’s beet and cane sugar farmers to be global leaders in sustainable sugar production – check out some of the sugar industry’s stories of sustainability at the links below.


A strong U.S. sugar policy … 

Supports an industry that is building upon decades of work to produce sugar, sustainably.

Promotes the adoption of environmentally friendly technologies and builds upon advancements already achieved such as reductions in greenhouse gases and improvements in water and soil quality.

Provides sustainable economic opportunities, often in both rural and urban communities where jobs can otherwise be limited. The sugar industry pays fair wages and good benefits, collectively totaling $4.2 billion.

Fosters a skilled and diverse workforce. The sugar industry takes pride in encouraging employee growth with initiatives such as on-the-job training and technical classes.

Allows sugar companies to provide development opportunities for their employees, like Kelly Moorhart, who took advantage of her company’s tuition reimbursement program to further her education and advance her career.

Encourages the sugar industry to invest in strengthening their communities, whether by working hand-in-hand with local organizations or hosting their own charity events.

Supports America’s resilient sugar producers as they endure economic challenges and unpredictable weather events as well as the communities that rely on the success of our industry.

All this, from a program designed to cost taxpayers $0. That’s a sweet deal.

U.S. Sugar Policy Supports American Jobs & Strong Communities

America’s no-cost sugar policy supports well-paying jobs and provides economic opportunities for our communities. In fact, the sugar industry generates 142,000 jobs across the country and adds $20 billion to the U.S. economy.

Sugar companies pay fair wages and offer good benefits, providing opportunities in communities where jobs can otherwise be limited. Our industry takes pride in fostering a skilled workforce. Whether it’s partnering with community colleges to develop educational opportunities or providing tuition reimbursement, additional training and technical classes, the sugar industry is continually encouraging growth and career advancement.


The skilled employees who help produce high-quality American sugar are an integral part of our industry. The American Sugar Alliance recently traveled to Minnesota to hear from sugar company employees on-the-ground about the steps our industry is taking to create a sustainable workforce.

Kelly Moorhart, a safety specialist at American Crystal Sugar Company, made incredible advancements in her career thanks to the company’s tuition reimbursement program. “They invested so much in me, and so early on in my career… I really do appreciate the fact that American Crystal Sugar invests so much in their employees,” said Moorhart.

American Crystal Sugar Company also partners with Minnesota State Community and Technical College to develop employee maintenance skills. This success of this partnership has been recognized by the American Association of Community Colleges as a finalist for their 2020 Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership Award of Excellence.

Elsewhere in the factory, Technical Training Lead, John Wagar, helps lead the Process Technician program. This training program provides a clear career path and the necessary on-the-job training to ensure long-term employee success.

All American Crystal Sugar Company employees are members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. In fact, 100 percent of beet sugar processors employ union labor, as do most cane refineries.

Outside of the factory, sugar companies and employees are active within our neighborhoods and engage with local leaders to help foster more sustainable communities.

Thanks in part to U.S. Sugar, thousands of students in Florida started school in August 2019 with brand-new backpacks filled with the supplies they would need for a successful year. Brannan Thomas, U.S. Sugar’s Community Relations Manager and a native of Belle Glade, helped lead this project and has spearheaded countless other initiatives to support youth programs, schools and other charities in the area.

“The support of the sugar industries in South Central Florida create sustainable communities, and I am proud to be a part of that,” Thomas said.

Wylie Wisnewski, a teacher at Red River Area Learning Center, did not have the resources he needed to create an engaging project-based learning environment. Through the American Crystal Sugar Company Community Roots program, Wisnewski and his classroom received two STEM Grants to ensure students had the resources they needed.

The American sugar industry does more than just produce affordable homegrown sugar. We invest countless volunteer hours and significant financial resources into our employees, schools and communities.

People lie at the heart of our industry, and we are proud to help empower our workforce and create a more inclusive and sustainable society.

Sugar Farmers Committed to Protecting Our Planet

Next week, sugar farmers from Florida to California will be trading in their jeans and boots for ties and suits to meet with dozens of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. They will be sharing an important message with Congress: foreign sugar subsidies distort the global market and hinder sustainability.

Thankfully, America’s no-cost sugar policy rewards responsible actions to protect our planet. Our farmers are leading the way on sustainable sugar production.

The American Sugar Alliance recently traveled to two sugar-farming states to talk with sugar producers first-hand about the farming practices they are using to sustain our environment.

“We are the original folks that understood sustainability. By nature, we have to sustain what’s precious to us, and what is vital to us and that’s our land,” says Michael Ellis, Vice President of Strategic Environmental Affairs at U.S. Sugar. Florida’s sugarcane farmers value the incredible resources and unique ecosystems that Florida has to offer and have invested more than $450 million to restore and preserve the Everglades.

In order to protect the Everglades, it’s critical to keep soil on farms and prevent phosphorus from entering the water. Sugarcane farmers in South Florida collaborated with scientists, industry partners and government agencies to develop state-of-the-art farming practices to protect the environment and reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Florida’s waterways.

The result? For the past 24 years, Florida sugarcane farmers have on average reduced the amount of phosphorus leaving their farms by 56 percent. That’s more than double the reduction target required by law.

“Being able to produce a crop, helping feed the world, and making the environment a better place? It’s a win-win,” says Jarad Plair, a farm manager for U.S. Sugar.

Nearly 2,000 miles away, we joined fifth-generation farmer Curt Knutson as the sugarbeet harvest in Minnesota was in full swing. Sustainability is not just a buzzword for Knutson and the other farmers who are part of the American Crystal Sugar Company co-op. It’s a way of life.

“We do things sustainably, that’s what keeps us going generation to generation,” Knutson says.

For Minnesota’s Red River Valley, sugarbeets are also a critical component of the region’s economic sustainability. American Crystal Sugar Company produces and sells approximately 3 billion pounds of sugar a year, and those sales have a $4.5 billion economic impact in the Red River Valley. The sugarbeet crop supports more than just the farmers, it supports grocery stores, equipment manufacturers, service providers and everyone else who lives in that region.

Sugar Producers Aren’t Feeling the Love

This Valentine’s Day, Americans will spend an estimated $2.4 billion buying candy treats for their sweet.

American sugar farmers and workers are proud to share the love by producing an affordable supply of homegrown sugar. But it’s heartbreaking that America’s sugar farmers and workers will receive just a small share of those sales.

The American Sugar Alliance is releasing two new social media graphics to highlight the low cost of sugar in popular Valentine’s Day items.

A heart-shaped box of chocolates costs $15.99, but sugar producers receive only $0.09. And they see just $0.06 of the $1.25 price tag for a box of conversation hearts.

Despite their big profits, Big Candy wants to break up with our no-cost sugar policy. It’s clear that Big Candy has nothing to complain about – sugar farmers and workers are receiving just pennies for their hard work.

We hope that Congress will send a valentine to America’s 142,000 sugar farmers and workers by pledging to protect our strong no-cost sugar policy.



New Videos Highlight Sugar’s Strides on Sustainability

The American Sugar Alliance recently hit the road, traveling from farm to factory to see sustainable sugar production in action. Along the way, we met farmers who care passionately about being good stewards of the land and workers who utilize cutting-edge manufacturing technology to produce high-quality American sugar.

Our first two stops included the sugarbeet industry in Minnesota’s Red River Valley and the sugarcane fields of South Florida, where sugar workers shared with us the incredible advances that allow our industry to produce sugar, sustainably.


The root of a sugarbeet contains approximately 18 percent sugar. So what do sugar producers do with the remaining 80 percent of the beet? John Wagar has more than 40 years’ experience processing sugarbeets, and he took us behind-the-scenes at the American Crystal Sugar Company factory in Moorhead, Minnesota to answer this question.

Sugar producers use nearly every part of the beet. They process the wastewater from the sugarbeet into clean water and create co-products from leftover pulp. Factories even separate dirt from sugarbeets so that this rich organic material can be returned to the field.

The milling of sugarcane also results in a leftover fibrous pulp, called bagasse. Where some people might just see trash, though, sugarcane workers see an incredible sustainable energy source. U.S. Sugar primarily uses bagasse to fuel their boilers, using very little fossil fuels and helping drastically reduce emissions.

Advances in technology have helped sugar producers make strides in sustainability in the field as well. Did you know that U.S. Sugar owns one of the largest privately-owned WiFi networks in the world? It covers 270 square miles and allows tractors to navigate with absolute precision.

The commitment our industry shares to sustainability and the protection of our natural resources is incredibly personal. “As farmers, we understand that in order to be successful, you need to have a healthy environment,” says Gracelyn Byrd, agronomist for U.S. Sugar.

Stay tuned for more sweet videos from sugar farmers and workers from across the country.

Texas Sugar Producers Tip Their Hat to Sugar Policy

Deep in the heart of Texas, approximately 112 farmers grow sugar cane across 41,000 acres along the banks of the Rio Grande river.

These farmers and their farmer-owned cooperative, Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, are important members of the Rio Grande Valley community and a critical part of the Texan economy. Unfortunately, they are all that is left of the once-booming sugar industry in south Texas.

Sugar production in the Lone Star State has a rich legacy spanning more than 200 years. However, economic and political hardships in the early 20th century forced the closure of the last of the sugar mills. In 1973, a group of farmers worked together to re-establish a sustainable sugar industry in the Rio Grande Valley.

Today, the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers are not only keeping this historic industry alive but also working to sustain the local economy. And America’s sugar policy has played a critical role in allowing sugar production to once again take root in Texas.

During the 2017/2018 growing season, their mill in Santa Rosa, Texas processed almost 1.7 million tons of sugar cane, producing more than 165,000 tons of raw sugar and nearly 60,000 tons of molasses. In fact, the mill produces enough sugar to provide an entire year’s worth of refined sugar to more than 7.7 million consumers.

And all of the hard work that goes into harvesting and processing that sugar certainly has a sweet effect on the economy.

According to Sean Brashear, President and CEO of Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, the sugar cane industry in Texas contributes $140.3 million annually to the state’s economy and supports an estimated 801 jobs statewide.

From the fields to the mill and everywhere in between, more than 300 people are directly employed by the sugar industry in the Rio Grande Valley. And hundreds more have jobs thanks to the economic impact generated by the mill and the farmers who supply it.

“We are proud to contribute to the rural economies that rely on the sugar industry,” Brashear said. “America’s sugar policy allows our farmers and workers to withstand a global market that is defined by foreign subsidies and depressed prices. Continued support of this policy will ensure that the legacy of sugar farming in Texas can survive.”

Just like sugar farmers and workers across the country, the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers are continually striving to become more efficient producers.

Farmers utilize GPS technology to minimize the use of diesel, fertilizer and pesticides and the Rio Grande Valley mill uses leftover cane from the milling process, called bagasse, as fuel to generate steam and electricity. When operating at peak efficiency, the mill creates enough electricity to power the nearby town of Santa Rosa.

The positive effects of the Texan sugar industry extend far beyond the state. Raw sugar is sold to a refinery in Louisiana and shipped by barge via the intracoastal waterway, bringing economic benefits to communities along the Gulf Coast on the way.

Many of the Rio Grande Valley farmers share a deep connection to this land. Board Chairman Leonard Simmons’ family has farmed in the Rio Grande Valley for 100 years.

“It’s important for us to share the story of sugar in the Rio Grande Valley,” Simmons said. “Producing sugar means supporting our families, contributing to our communities, being responsible stewards of the land, and continuing this heritage for the next generation.”

And Simmons credits Congress for supporting the sugar industry in Texas by approving a 2018 Farm Bill that maintains a strong sugar policy.

“Congress firmly rejected cutting our families, farms and livelihood out of the Farm Bill. We hope they will continue to stand up for sugar producers in Texas and beyond.”

Thankfully, the sugar industry in Texas is no longer simply a part of history.

Idaho Grower Trailblazes Industry-Changing Technology

Duane Grant never set out to be an agricultural pioneer. He just wanted to continue the family farm and make his dad proud.

Grant grew up on his father Douglas’s farm in Southern Idaho and contributed from an early age, eventually joining the operation full-time after high school.

Since he joined the operation in 1980, he has become the CEO of Grant 4-D Farms and guided a more than 50-fold increase in the farm’s size and production. Grant 4-D Farms grows sugarbeets, potatoes, seed potatoes, wheat, malt barley, corn, and hay on its farms in Southern Idaho and Eastern Oregon.

“Hard work and technology-fueled the growth,” said Grant, who is also the chairman of Amalgamated Sugar Company.

And no technology has been as revolutionary as sugarbeet seeds that are bioengineered to resist weed-killing herbicides – a process commonly called GMO. Grant credits the invention with reducing the industry’s environmental footprint as well as saving countless farms from ruin.

“My family has been involved in agriculture since migrating from Scotland more than 100 years ago,” Grant said. “We are now seeing the next generation working on our family farms, and it is an incredible feeling to know that thanks to advancements like biotechnology our operations can continue to contribute to the local economy and the nation’s food supply.”

Like many farms in his area, sugarbeets are at the heart of Grant’s operation. But the crop was becoming harder and harder for families like his to produce.

“Beets are a nightmare to grow because of weeds,” he explained. “Sugar farmers can go bankrupt if they can’t successfully control weeds. That used to mean a rigorous regimen that required lots of money, lots of chemicals, and lots of people working long hours.”

So, in the early 2000s, Grant dedicated himself to bringing the same GMO technology to sugarbeets that was benefitting corn and soybean farmers.

Numerous field trials testing genetically-modified beets were conducted on Grant’s farm. He was one of the first farmers who agreed to take the leap of faith and commercially plant a GMO sugarbeet crop in 2007. And, he was deeply involved with a U.S. Department of Agriculture advisory committee charged with charting a course for the future of biotechnology.

By 2008, other sugarbeet farmers were eager to enjoy GMO’s benefits, and nearly 60 percent of U.S. beet production had shifted. Just one year later, bioengineered seeds accounted for 95 percent of the nation’s sugarbeet crop.

Since the introduction of GMO sugarbeet seed, Grant said per acre productivity has accelerated to the point where growers associated with Amalgamated Sugar get twice as much production from less than half the amount of inputs they did 15 years ago.

This means less spraying of herbicides; less tilling and stripping of the land, which leads to erosion; and less need for costly farm equipment that burns fossil fuels.

“When I was a kid, the valley where we grow used to turn brown from wind-blown soil erosion caused by traditional sugarbeet tillage practices.” Grant said. “That doesn’t happen anymore…we stay green and it’s thanks to the genetically modified seed.”

In fact, scientific studies show that bioengineered sugarbeets have reduced ecotoxicity and environmental risk by 92 percent and 98 percent respectively. And this technology has enabled farmers to utilize better farming practices that have cut soil-derived carbon emissions by 80%.

And with sugar prices low and stagnating, and with production costs climbing, the development of GMO sugarbeet seed also helped alleviate the economic squeeze of weed control that was crippling Grant and his neighbors.

In short, more sugarbeets are being produced on less land, and it’s being done in a more economical and environmental way.

“Best of all, when the natural sugar contained in beets is extracted during the refining process, the resulting table sugar is identical to sugar from non-GMO beet or cane sugar,” Grant said, “which is important to some consumers.”

Grant is astonished when he sits back and thinks about how far his farm and the industry has come in just the past decade.

“It’s fitting to describe the journey as a ‘tough row to hoe,’” he said of the farming metaphor used to describe a challenging task. “But it’s been well worth it. We’ve saved farms, helped families, and improved the environment by making sugar more sustainable.”

Needless to say, his father would be proud.

Union Workers to Congress: America’s Sugar Policy Sustains Local Communities

Cornelius Fowler’s message was simple when he walked the halls of Congress this summer.

“If you kill the root, you kill the tree,” he said, “and the sugar industry is the root of the tree in my community.”

Fowler drives a truck hauling farm equipment for the Florida Crystals Okeelanta Sugar Mill in western Palm Beach County. His father and grandfather worked at the mill.

He was among the group of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) members who traveled to Washington recently to explain why America’s sugar policy is critical to rural communities.

“If there’s no sugar policy, we have no future, no job, no home,” Fowler explained.

The no-cost policy is part of the Farm Bill, which Congress passed last year. It exists due to subsidies and trade-distorting policies around the globe, and it helps U.S. farmers and sugar businesses survive amid price volatility.

The American industry employs 142,000 people in 22 states in mostly rural communities. Direct annual wages and benefits for the industry add up to nearly $1.2 billion – a figure that increases to $4.2 billion when economy-wide impacts are included.

Fowler is raising 5 children with his union job at Florida Crystals. It offered him job training, good pay, a pension and benefits. His son, the oldest, is considering medical school.

Union members met with about 30 lawmakers or their staff representatives during the visit. Most of the lawmakers were freshmen and new to sugar policy.

“A lot of people don’t get to visit Congress,” Fowler said. “Being able to sit down with them and tell them your story. Tell them exactly what your community, and your job, means to you.”

Joaquin Almazan, another IAM member, and worker at the Okeelanta Sugar Mill, was on the trip with Fowler. He’s a second-generation machinist, joining his father in the business. His son is now working at the mill.

“It has meant a good living for us,” he told the members he met with. “We have been able to put my daughter through college and buy a house. We have good health care and money for vacations. It’s everything to us.”

U.S. sugar policy, Almazan said, creates sustainable communities around Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. The money from sugar jobs is spent locally at other businesses and funds public infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

His sister works for a local business that might not exist without the good-paying union jobs at the mill.

“If I lose my job, she probably loses hers because most of us in town can’t afford to support local businesses without a sugar paycheck,” he noted.

Similar sentiments were shared by Carol Howard, a union worker with U.S. Sugar’s railroad that hauls sugar from Florida fields to factory. She joined Fowler and Almazan on Capitol Hill.

“I followed in my father’s footsteps when I started at the company more than a decade ago. Now my son now works here, and I have several family members working at U.S. Sugar,” she said. “Sugar has sustained my whole family, and it’s important that I help support the policy that sustains the industry.”

A strong bond with a unionized workforce isn’t isolated to cane companies, either. Half of America’s sugar comes from sugarbeets and 100 percent of beet factories are unionized. In addition to IAM, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; International Longshore and Warehouse Union; Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union; Service Employees International Union; United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; Sugar Workers Union; and International Longshoremen’s Association all represent employees in the sugar industry.

These union workers receive strong salaries, a competitive benefits package, tuition, and certification reimbursement, and diversified safe workplaces.

It’s no wonder then that the international president of IAM – as well as leaders from several of other unions – weighed in so aggressively during Congress’ recent Farm Bill debate.  As IAM explained in a letter to all House members:

U.S. sugar farmers and sugar workers deserve a level playing field and should not be forced to compete with farmers subsidized and supported by foreign governments whether by direct loans, cash incentives or foreign ethanol programs.

U.S. sugar policy supports good union jobs in rural and urban areas of the country. The U.S Congress should not support outsourcing these jobs to countries with low labor and environmental standards.

Simply put, organized labor’s message is crystal clear.  U.S. sugar policy maintains good-paying jobs at home and that’s key to the survival of our communities.

Florida Sugar Producers Give a Hoot About Pest Control

The sugarcane fields of south Florida are home to more than just high-quality sugar.

The tall stalks provide a habitat to countless creatures that call the region home. Birds, reptiles, and small mammals all live in the farm fields, sharing their habitat with humans who grow cane.

It’s been like this since sugarcane was commercially cultivated in the region nearly a century ago.

And farmers in the area, by nature, love the environment and the animals it sustains. The soil, sun and rain in Florida bring to life the crops they raise. Protecting that environment is just as important to sugarcane farmers as the crop that flourishes in Florida.

But some of the critters that live among the stalks can cause problems for sustainable and efficient cane harvesting. Rats and mice chew on the stalks, often damaging a significant percentage of the crop.

That means farmers had to spend time and energy working to protect their crops from the pests. In the past, they’ve used the same methods you might use at home to rid your property of rodents. But those methods were expensive and, in some cases, inefficient. Traditional applications used to combat rodents required multiple treatments and would dissolve and become ineffective with rain.

Enter the barn owl – and a widespread local sustainable farming practice that got its start from a humble high school science fair project back in 1994.

As that project noted, barn owls native to the Florida sugar area love to nest in tight spaces, like the rafters and eaves of barns. They also eat mice – by the thousands. And the fact that a pair of owls were shown to eat as many as 5,000 rodents in a year was music to the sugarcane farmers’ ears.

Dr. Richard Raid, of the University of Florida, took that science fair project and expanded it to what has become a great method for controlling rodents in cane fields. His work even won him a special achievement award from the World Owl Hall of Fame in 2019.

Since Dr. Raid expanded upon the local science project, thousands of local students have built barn owl boxes and installed them in sugarcane fields.

The first-generation wooden boxes have been replaced with plastic boxes because bees also found them to be a good home. The bees disturbed the owls and presented a danger for workers. The bees don’t seem to like the plastic boxes, but the owls do.

Florida Crystals Corporation and the independent growers in the area are big believers in the project, using barn owl boxes in most of their fields.

“We basically upgraded from wooden birdhouses to sturdier condos,” says Marianne Martinez, the company’s vice president of corporate communications.

Moramay Naranjo, principal scientist, is over the project at Florida Crystals.

The most recent owl census showed of the 126 boxes, 92 of those currently contain nesting owls. Naranjo is measuring the ability of the owls to control rodents and has plans to expand.

Naranjo says using the owls is a win-win for farmers and the environment.

“I’m so excited,” she says. “I am helping those families of owls. They have a cute and unique face. I feel so proud because we are helping everything – the ecosystem, the environment and at the same time we are protecting our farms.”

And that is what sustainability is all about.

Minnesota Farmers Leading Phosphorous Fight

Phosphorus is a naturally-occurring nutrient that is essential for plant life. But, it can be bad for our waterways by causing algal blooms which results in depleted oxygen in the water, which in turn harms plants and wildlife and can disrupt the ecosystem.

Maintaining clean and healthy waterways is a top priority for the sugar industry, which is why the farmers of the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMBSC) have taken action to help stamp out the effects of phosphorus.

And their efforts have garnered praise from conservationists and regulators alike.

In 1999, the SMBSC looked to increase the production capabilities of their factory in Renville, Minnesota, approximately 100 miles west of Minneapolis. Because sugar beets are approximately 75 percent water, processing more than 2 million tons of sugar beets a season requires the successful management of more than a million gallons of water a day. A new wastewater treatment plant was necessary.

In an effort to minimize phosphorus levels in the Minnesota River Basin, SMBSC worked in conjunction with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency during the permitting process to develop a plan to offset potential discharges from their wastewater treatment plant.

For every pound of possible phosphorus released, SMBSC would ensure that 2.6 pounds of nonpoint source pollution does not enter the waterways.

Unlike point source pollution, where contaminants enter the water at an identifiable point such as a factory, nonpoint source pollution occurs when rain runoff or drainage sweeps pollutants into water sources.

This type of pollution is responsible for most of the excess phosphorus found in Minnesota waterways. In fact, a 2004 study prepared for the Minnesota State Legislature found that “nonpoint sources of phosphorus account for 69 percent of the phosphorus entering Minnesota surface waters.” And of that amount, an estimated 25 percent of phosphorus came from cropland runoff.

“As farmers, we have a sincere respect for the resources that have been gifted to us,” says Kyle Petersen, chairman of the board for SMBSC. “We are committed to preserving a sustainable and healthy natural environment and knew that we had to take action to defend our waterways.”

As part of that commitment, SMBSC created incentives for farmers and cattle ranchers to reduce phosphorus pollution from nonpoint sources.

SMBSC worked with their more than 500 farmer shareholders to encourage the use of cover crops to minimize soil erosion caused by wind or rainfall and greatly reduce cropland runoff.

More than 75 percent of SMBSC growers now use a cover crop on their sugar beet fields. Not only are they taking strides to protect the environment, but SMBSC growers have found that cover crops protect the emerging beet plants and improve soil health, leading to an increased yield.

The cooperative has also worked with a local cattle company to stabilize a streambank and put into place measures to restrict cattle from entering the water and reduce pollution.

Not content to simply meet their goals, SMBSC has remained well below the phosphorus release limit established by their permit while exceeding their stated phosphorus reduction commitment.

SMBSC has been credited with preventing more than twice as much phosphorus from entering Minnesota surface waters as required by their permit. In total, that’s a reduction of more than 219,000 pounds of phosphorus.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency estimates that between 2000 and 2014, Minnesota reduced phosphorus in the Mississippi River Basin by 33 percent, with 8 percent being attributed to cropland best management practices.

We are proud to be leading the fight against nutrient pollution in the Minnesota River Basin,” says Steven Domm, President and CEO of SMBSC. “We work and live in this community and realize that preserving it for future generations is a shared responsibility.

These efforts have rightly won accolades from environmental groups and have been highlighted as an example of best practices for other facilities to follow.

Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) – a Minnesota non-profit dedicated to protecting the Upper Minnesota River Watershed – awarded SMBSC with CURE’s first “good business award” for their work in reducing pollutants. And the USDA Office of the Chief Economist has highlighted SMBSC’s efforts in a “Farm of the Future” profile.

SMBSC continues to be on the forefront of sustainable nutrient management practices. Through their work to raise awareness of the issues surrounding phosphorus pollution, their efforts to maintain healthy waterways will continue to have big impacts in Minnesota and beyond.

Visit to learn more about how sugar farmers and workers are producing sugar sustainably.

America’s Sugar Industry Launches

America’s sugar farmers and workers are global leaders in sustainable production, providing consumers with high-quality sugar produced under some of the world’s strictest safety, labor and environmental standards.

And it’s all possible thanks to America’s no-cost sugar policy.

Today the American Sugar Alliance launched to highlight the commitments that our industry has made over the last several decades to preserve our natural resources, family farms and rural communities for future generations.

“America’s sugar industry is proud to be on the front lines of securing a more resilient and efficient future for agriculture,” said Brian Baenig, chairman of the American Sugar Alliance.

Sustainable sugar production is rooted in our pledge to prioritize people, protect the planet, produce superior products, and promote fair-price policies. shares stories from across the country about the ways that our industry has fulfilled these commitments.

The American sugar industry prioritizes people by investing in our local communities, supporting multi-generational family farms, creating 142,000 well-paying jobs and providing development opportunities for our diverse workforce.

We are continually advancing industry efforts to protect the planet, including action to reduce greenhouse gasses, sequester carbon and improve water and soil quality. Investments in research and technology have enabled sugar producers to produce 12% more sugar on 16% less land than 20 years ago while reducing carbon emissions and minimizing the use of fertilizer and pesticides.

And we produce superior products for our customers utilizing all parts of the crop to reduce waste and create beneficial co-products. From livestock feed to road deicers, eco-friendly kitchenware, fuel and electricity generation, sugar co-products touch the lives of countless consumers.

Lastly, the sugar industry promotes fair-price policies in order to provide consumers with affordable sugar, help farmers mitigate risks and encourage subsidy-free markets that improve the quality of life for farmers around the globe. features a wide range of initiatives from throughout the beet and cane sugar industries, from the innovative use of technology to leading environmental programs.

These success stories stand in stark contrast to the negative impact of a heavily subsidized world market that rewards poor environmental practices. Unfortunately, farm policy critics would like to end our no-cost sugar policy, outsourcing U.S. sugar production to this unpredictable and unsustainable global sugar market.

It’s clear that a sustainable future is one that builds upon the work already accomplished by the U.S. sugar industry to protect our environment while giving our farmers, workers and communities the opportunity to flourish.

Stay tuned for more stories about how America’s sugar producers are taking action to produce sugar sustainably.

Indian Sugar Subsidies Sink Global Prices

The Wall Street Journal recently published a must-read article clearly articulating how foreign-government intervention drives wild price fluctuations in the international sugar market. The article rightfully identifies India as one of the most egregious offenders, helping “push prices toward their lowest level in a decade”:

The drop extends a two-year stretch in which depressed prices have squeezed profits at sugar refineries, hurt farmers whose livelihoods depend on the crop and led to tensions between nations that are major producers. A big part of the decline stems from India, which overtook Brazil as the world’s biggest grower of sugar in the 2018-19 season, producing 33.1 million tons.

Generous past subsidies, estimated to have valued about $1.7 billion per year, have fueled a sugar surplus that the government is now seeking to offload onto the world dump market. The Wall Street Journal continues:

Bumper harvests have swelled India’s sugar stockpiles to around 17.6 million tons, according to the USDA. The prospect of these being sold on international markets has weighed on global prices for much of the year.

Many participants in the sugar market expect the Indian government to renew an export subsidy program for refineries in the coming weeks, albeit with some tweaks. The policy, introduced last year, contributed to a 52% rise in exports and has drawn ire from rival producers. The World Trade Organization is investigating complaints by Australia, Brazil and Guatemala that the subsidies are illegal.

Just days later, India’s government decided to renew its export subsidy program, announcing it will dole out nearly $880 million in subsidies to incentivize the export of 6 million tonnes of sugar in the 2019/20 marketing year which begins on October 1. Sugar mills will receive an export subsidy of 10,448 rupees – or nearly $145 – per tonne of sugar.

International reaction was swift as Brazil and Australia condemned the latest round of subsidies, with one industry leader in Australia branding India’s decision “a massive market distortion.”  Bloomberg stated that the “subsidies are just another blow to the market that’s already suffering from oversupply.”

Amazingly, it appears that the Indian sugar industry wanted even more government assistance. An anonymous sugar miller expressed their disappointment to Reuters, saying, “We were expecting more than 12,000 rupees [$167] per tonne subsidy considering the drop in global prices.”

A drop in global prices driven in large part by India’s ever-expanding portfolio of government subsidies.

Due to government intervention, the economics of the world market are almost completely divorced from normal market signals and prices have fallen well below the cost of production. It’s increasingly clear that this is an unsustainable trend.

Faced with the volatility of the world market, America’s no-cost sugar policy helps level the playing field for our farmers and secures a stable supply of high-quality sugar for food manufacturers and consumers.

But America’s sugar industry is proud to be among the most efficient producers in the world and would like to compete in a free market. That is why we will continue to call on Congress to seek the elimination of all foreign sugar subsidies by passing Congressman Yoho’s Zero-for-Zero legislation. Dismantling all market-distorting subsidy programs will be the only way to truly establish a free and fair market for sugar.

Until then, we will continue to shine a spotlight on the foreign subsidies destroying the global market.

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.