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

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

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

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

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

Farm Policy Experts Note Rising Costs of Producing Sugarbeets and Sugarcane

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

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

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

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

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

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

sugar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

American Sugar Alliance Responds to Inaccuracies in GAO Sugar Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources: 

 

Press Release: American Sugar Alliance Congratulates New Speaker of the House, Representative Mike Johnson 

Press Release: American Sugar Alliance Congratulates New Speaker of the House, Representative Mike Johnson 

 

The American Sugar Alliance congratulates Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA-04) on his election as Speaker of the House – and on becoming the first Speaker of the House from Louisiana.

 

As Speaker of the House, Mr. Johnson has the critical task of shepherding legislation impacting the lives of all Americans – including a Farm Bill that supports American farmers and ranchers who provide us with the safest, most abundant and affordable food, feed, fiber, and fuel supply in the world.  

 

“We stand ready to work with Speaker Johnson and all of House leadership in swiftly advancing the next Farm Bill,” said American Sugar Alliance Chairwoman Cassie Bladow. “Farmers and workers are the backbone of this nation – especially as job creators and community leaders. Our 11,000 American sugarbeet and sugarcane family farmers support more than 151,000 good-paying jobs and maintain a resilient domestic sugar supply chain for consumers and food manufacturers. We urge the House of Representatives under Speaker Johnson’s leadership to introduce and pass a Farm Bill that meets the needs of American farmers and ranchers and the communities they support.” 

Jim Simon, General Manager of the American Sugar Cane League, added, “Speaker Johnson understands the importance of agriculture to the nation and to our state. Louisiana’s sugarcane growers and processors congratulate the new Speaker and urge Congress to act expeditiously to approve and improve the farm safety net.”

 

The Farm Bill, portions of which expired on September 30, 2023, plays a vital role in supporting the nation’s entire agricultural sector. In these challenging times, where farmers and ranchers face increased occurrence and severity of natural disasters, high foreign subsidies, and other predatory trade practices, a strong safety net is more crucial than ever. The Farm Bill not only provides a farm safety net but also creates more than 21 million American jobs, both on and off the farm and ranch, while fueling the U.S. economy. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USDA Reiterates Support for American Sugar Producers

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

Deputy Under Secretary Montaño Greene assured the industry that USDA is “supportive of sugar producers.” USDA is focused on making tough decisions to balance “support for domestic producers with the demands of the sugar market.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

Congresswoman Cammack Champions Sugar Producers in Keynote Address  

For Immediate Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

 

American Sugar Alliance Unites With Farm, Forestry, Environmental and Hunger Advocates on Farm Bill Passage

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2023 – Twenty groups representing agricultural, environmental, forestry, wildlife, nutrition and hunger advocates have launched the “Farm Bill for America’s Families: Sustaining Our Future” campaign to urge passage of the 2023 farm bill this year.

Farm Bill for America’s Families brings together stakeholders who support the farm bill and recognize its profound impact on the well-being of all Americans. The campaign seeks to engage consumers, leaders and lawmakers alike on the importance of the farm bill and highlights five core objectives: food security, job creation, conservation, risk management and addressing hunger.

The American Sugar Alliance is a founding member of this campaign along with:

  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • American Seed Trade Association
  • American Soybean Association
  • Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Farm Credit Council
  • Feeding America
  • National Alliance of Forest Owners
  • National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
  • National Association of Wheat Growers
  • National Corn Growers Association
  • National Cotton Council
  • National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
  • National Farmers Union
  • National Pork Producers Council
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • S. Peanut Federation
  • USA Rice

Farm Bill for America’s Families believes that together, we can ensure our food system remains thriving and sustainable for all Americans, for generations to come. Other organizations that share the campaign’s mission are invited to join today at FarmBillforAmericasFamilies.com/join.

For more information, visit https://farmbillforamericasfamilies.com/.

###

American Sugar Alliance Statement on Hurricane Ian

Ryan Weston, Chairman of the American Sugar Alliance, issued the following statement on Hurricane Ian:

“Our hearts go out to our friends in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian. These are trying times, but we have faith in the resilience and compassion of our sugar farmers, factory workers, and community members to support one another through it all.”

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. 

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Spend some time in the kitchen as a family and bake up a batch of America’s favorite cookie! Here are some recipes to get you started:

2021 Virtual Board Meeting

Thank you for your interest in the American Sugar Alliance virtual annual board meeting that was held Tuesday, August 3rd, at 10:00 a.m. ET. While we were unable to gather in California for this year’s Symposium, hosting ASA’s virtual board meeting provided us an opportunity to bring you up to date on many of the critical issues our industry has faced over the last year. If you were able to attend, we hope you found the webinar informative. For those of you who were unable to attend, we wanted to be sure to include you.

For your convenience, we have compiled several speaker presentations below. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

Barbara Fecso

Barbara Fecso is the Branch Chief of the Commodity Analysis Branch, Economic and Policy Analysis Division, Farm Production and Conservation Business Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture. She is responsible for overseeing the administration of the domestic sugar, dairy, livestock, cotton, peanuts, grains and oilseeds programs. Barbara provides guidance to the Secretary of Agriculture on the formulation and implementation of national policies and procedures, as well as economic and budgetary impact analysis of those programs.

Barbara has twenty-five years of government service in USDA with an emphasis on program analysis, operations and budgetary analysis. She initially spent five years with the Natural Resource Conservation Service as a program analyst for conservation technical assistance, watershed, and animal waste management programs. She then spent two years as a wheat and pulse crop analyst at the Farm Service Agency before shifting to sugar. She was named Director of FSA’s Dairy and Sweeteners Analysis branch in 2014 and played a critical role in the negotiation of the current sugar trade agreement with Mexico. In October 2018, she was named Branch Chief under USDA’s reorganization and now oversees 10 economists who cover over 30 commodities, including dairy and the livestock disaster programs.

Barbara received a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1994. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and lived for almost twenty years in central Illinois.  She has three children and now resides in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.

Lori Tortora

Lori Tortora serves as Senior Policy Advisor for Import Programs, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), USDA, where her portfolio includes both the sugar and dairy programs. Prior to assuming this position, she held the position of Senior Trade Advisor in the Multilateral Affairs Division, FAS. Ms. Tortora joined FAS in 2008, and during her tenure has covered a variety of trade policy issues including those related to sanitary and phytosanitary and technical barriers to U.S. agricultural exports. Ms. Tortora has extensive experience working with international organizations such as the World Trade Organization, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Codex Alimentarius, etc. Before joining FAS, Ms. Tortora worked for the Columbus McKinnon Corporation in export sales and worked as a contractor for the U.S Military in Kitzingen, Germany. She has a Bachelor of Arts in German Language and Literature and speaks German fluently.

Dr. Dan Colacicco

Dr. Dan Colacicco of Cicco Commodities, Inc. provides consulting services on federal agricultural support programs, particularly USDA’s sugar, honey, and dairy support programs. Dr. Colaccio currently serves as an economic advisor to the American Sugar Alliance, working to optimize Sugar Program management to the benefit of U.S. sugarcane and sugarbeet growers, processors, and refiners.

Dr. Colacicco has held a number of positions in the federal government, previously serving as the Director of the Dairy and Sweetener Analysis Group, Farm Service Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2000-2014). Dr. Colacicco administered the domestic Sugar Program and Sugarcane Disaster Assistance programs for the Farm Service Agency. He also provided the economic and policy analysis for FSA’s dairy and honey programs. He was responsible for the regulations and implementation of the domestic sugar program, which includes the Sugar Loan Program, Sugar Marketing Allotment Program, Sugar Payment in Kind Program, Feedstock Flexibility Program, and the sugar information collection system. He was responsible for developing the strategy and implementing the programs that eliminated the 2013 sugar surplus in the U.S. sugar market.

Dr. Colacicco also worked as a sugar and dairy analyst at the Dairy and Sweetener Analysis Group, USDA/FSA (1993-2000). Provided economic and policy analysis (interpreted law, wrote regulations, wrote implementing manuals, established quantitative methods of program eligibility and acceptance, evaluated programs) of USDA’s Sugar Marketing Allotment Program, Sugar Loan Program, Dairy Market Loss Assistance Program, and Dairy Price Support Program. Assisted in the elimination of the 2000/01 domestic sugar surplus, mainly through tightening the U.S. market to permit government sugar sales. Dr. Colacicco also developed and administered a program using surplus sugar to produce ethanol. He was a member of USDA’s dairy and sugar interagency estimates committees that produce USDA’s monthly WASDE report for 15 years.

Phillip Hayes

Phillip Hayes is a senior consultant with IRI Consultants, which merged in 2017 with North Bridge Communications – a DC-based public relations firm that Phillip co-founded more than 10 years earlier.  In addition to representing the American Sugar Alliance, Phillip also represents National Crop Insurance Services and Farm Policy Facts, a coalition of numerous agricultural organizations.

Before starting North Bridge, Phillip served as the American Sugar Alliance’s communications director, a position he began in 2004 and still holds today.  He was also a member of the media relations team at Hill & Knowlton, which was the world’s biggest PR firm at the time.

Phillip began his career on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant for a member of the House Appropriations Committee and as the staff director of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Production and Price Competitiveness.

A graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Phillip holds degrees in journalism and history.  He lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with his wife, Jennifer, and their three children – ages 14, 12 and 12.

Jack Pettus

Jack Pettus has worked in the Washington, DC, policy arena since 1987, serving in the Doorkeeper’s Office of the U.S. House of Representatives, and as staff for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture and a federal commission to improve risk management tools for farmers.  Jack formed Pettus Consulting in 1995 and has been an advocate and consultant to barley growers, rice farmers, cotton warehouses, a technology start-up and global commodity trading companies.  Since 2001, Jack has represented the Louisiana sugarcane industry and he has served as Vice President for Government Relations for the American Sugar Cane League and as a member of the Executive Committee of the American Sugar Alliance since 2006.

Jack resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Laura, and their k9id, Dexter.

Brian Grunenfelder

Brian Grunenfelder has served as Trade Advisor to the American Sugar Alliance, the national coalition of growers, processors, and refiners of sugarbeets and sugarcane since January 2019.

Brian joined USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in 1984. He served in a variety of trade policy-focused positions over his 27-year career with FAS, including Acting Deputy Administrator, Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs; Assistant Deputy Administrator, Office of Negotiations and Agreements (ONA); and Director, Asia and Americas Division, International Trade Policy.

From 2011-2016, Brian served as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative in USTR’s Office of Agricultural Affairs. In addition to his portfolio of responsibilities that included South Korea, Colombia, and Peru, Brian served as a lead negotiator in the agriculture market access group negotiations with Japan as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) initiative.

Jack Roney

The American Sugar Alliance is the national coalition of growers, processors, and refiners of sugarbeets and sugarcane.  Roney has been with ASA since 1996 and represents ASA on matters of domestic and trade policy.  He has testified at numerous Congressional and Executive Branch hearings, spoken at many international conferences, and appeared frequently on television and radio programs on behalf of American sugar producers. He has served as chairman of the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products, a private sector trade policy advisory group formed by the U.S. government, and as president of the Sugar Club, an international industry group based in New York City. His 46-year career in agricultural policy has spanned nine Farm Bills.

Prior to joining the ASA, Roney served for seven years as Washington representative for the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association and for 15 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including stints with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Economic Research Service, and World Agricultural Outlook Board. Earlier, he taught mathematics at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia.

Roney holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and German from Fordham University, where he co-captained the varsity swimming and water polo teams. His undergraduate studies included a year at the University of Cologne, Germany. Roney has earned two master’s degrees: in public affairs journalism from American University, and in international public policy from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. A native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Roney resides in Vienna, Virginia, with his wife, Deborah; they have two grown children, Kyle and Alison.

Jeff Harrison

Jeff Harrison serves as Senior Counsel at Combest, Sell & Associates. Jeff leads the firm in developing and implementing legislative and regulatory strategies, building coalitions, and promoting client priorities.

Prior to joining CS&A in 2005, Jeff served 13 years on Capitol Hill, including as a Legislative Director in the U.S. Senate and as Counsel for the House Committee on Agriculture where he was lead counsel on the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000 and numerous titles to the 2002 Farm Bill, including commodities and crop insurance. Jeff also clerked for the Honorable Paul A. Magnuson, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota where he was sworn into the Minnesota State and Federal Bar. Jeff has had a hand in crafting every major agriculture statute written in the past 25 years.

A native of Bluffton, Minnesota in Otter Tail County, Jeff graduated with distinction from the University of North Dakota School of Law where he also earned his undergraduate degree. Harrison resides in Washington, DC and is active in the Latin Mass community at his parish.

Dr. Robert Johansson

Dr. Johansson serves as the Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance, the national coalition of sugarbeet and sugarcane growers, processors, and refiners. There he analyzes and models domestic and world sugar supply and demand fundamentals and domestic and foreign sugar and general agricultural policies, including Farm Bill topics and international trade negotiations.

Previously, Dr. Robert Johansson was the Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dr. Johansson served in that role from January 2015 to January 2021. As Chief Economist, he was responsible for the Department’s agricultural forecasts and projections and for advising the Secretary of Agriculture on economic implications of alternative programs, regulations, and legislative proposals.  During that period, Dr. Johansson also served as the Chairman of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors and was responsible for establishing USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area in 2017.

He has also served as an economist with several government agencies, including USDA’s Economic Research Service, the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.  Dr. Johansson received his B.A. in economics from Northwestern University and then served with the U.S. Peace Corps from 1990 to 1995.  After returning to his home State of Minnesota, he received his Ph.D. in Agricultural & Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota in 2000.  His research has spanned a wide range of issues, including biofuels policy, water quality and quantity policies, regulatory economics, food security, and regional modeling of agricultural systems.

 

Jim Wiesemeyer

From his office near Washington, DC, Jim Wiesemeyer contributes daily to Pro Farmer’s online website at profarmer.com, providing members with the latest information on agricultural policy and trade developments. He also is a participant in Farm Journal’s Agri-Talk radio program, has his weekly Farm Journal podcast each Monday called Signal to Noise, and serves as a Washington analyst for Pro Farmer and Farm Journal.

Since 1978, Mr. Wiesemeyer has frequently reported on and interviewed senior government officials, including presidents, as well as USDA Secretaries since Earl Butz. He has traveled extensively in his assignments and is a frequent speaker on farm policy and trade issues. Wiesemeyer rejoined Pro Farmer in June of 2017, after serving as their Washington consultant for 19 years while at Informa Economics, and before that an employee of Pro Farmer, then owned by Oster Communications. Mr. Wiesemeyer also is one of the writers for the Agriculture Letter, formerly the Kiplinger Ag Letter, now owned by Farm Journal Media

The Honorable Collin Peterson

The Honorable Collin Peterson represented Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, one of the nation’s largest agriculture districts, in Congress for 30 years. During his tenure, Mr. Peterson chaired the House Committee on Agriculture and was fundamental in the crafting and passage of five farm bills. Today, he is the founder and principal of the Peterson Group, an agriculture-policy-focused consulting firm. The Peterson Group is proud to partner with Combest, Sell & Associates where Chairman Peterson deploys his vast experience in an advisory and consulting role.

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.

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: SugarAlliance.org. 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.

Statement on House Agriculture Committee Leadership Elections

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

 

Sugar Policy Ensures Adequate Supplies in a Crisis

This week marks the 78-year anniversary of sugar rationing. During World War II, sugar was so critical, and in such short supply since the U.S. was heavily dependent on foreign suppliers, that it was the first item to be rationed and the last item to be removed from the rationing list two years after the war ended.

“Sugar is scarce, make it stretch,” one government poster urged Americans during WWII.

It’s an appropriate moment to remember this anniversary, as the world is once again at war; this time, against an invisible enemy.

There is one critical difference: U.S. farm and trade policies ensure that we now have access to an affordable and sustainable supply of sugar.

During the 1940s, America was largely reliant on foreign nations for sugar. After the war ended and restrictions were lifted, the U.S. government sought to encourage the production of sugar here at home to make sure Americans were never again without this important food ingredient.

Now, American sugarcane and sugarbeet growers and the workers who process the crop into refined sugar ensure that we have a reliable domestic source of this essential ingredient. The millions of dollars that U.S. sugar producers have invested in the U.S. supply chain ensures product gets to market quickly. And, America’s no-cost sugar policy supports 142,000 jobs in more than 20 states with an economic impact of $20 billion.

More importantly, today’s sugar policy provides flexibility to ensure that we maintain an adequate supply of homegrown and imported sugar, while ensuring we are not dependent on foreign sugar suppliers.

As the world works quickly to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, measures meant to stop the virus have also complicated supply chains and, in some cases, have slowed delivery of food ingredients. Yet grocery store shelves remain stocked with sugar at a stable price.

We are so thankful for the men and women in the sugar industry who continue to provide us with the sugar we need to provide nourishing and comforting meals to our families. In the uncertain times caused by the COVID-19, it’s reassuring to know that sugar is one less thing the American public has to worry about.

Sugar Producers Aid COVID-19 Fight

The COVID-19 pandemic has required an all hands on deck approach to protect our communities and ensure first responders have the tools they need. Sugar producers have boldly stepped up to the challenge and are making critical donations, retooling portions of their production lines or diverting sugar from their normal supply chains to create necessary products to fight COVID-19.

Health care providers across the country are desperately in need of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, to protect them as they are on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19. Sugar companies are donating extra masks and equipment to these first responders.

Michigan Sugar Company uses PPE to keep sugar workers safe, and donated a portion of their company supply to local health systems, including hundreds of masks, safety glasses, and gloves.

Amalgamated Sugar Company, which processes sugar beets in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, saw the pressing need for cloth face masks to protect against the COVID-19 virus and moved the industrial sewing machines in its quality lab into face mask production. They typically make tare sample bags but are now hard at work sewing face masks to protect their employees as they continue the essential work of producing food for our nation. Amalgamated Sugar employees are assisting in this effort as well, working to sew masks while at home.

“We will donate any surplus we have once our critical infrastructure employees are adequately protected,” said Scott Winn, Amalgamated Sugar’s Vice President of Operations.

Beyond masks, hand sanitizer was among the first items in short supply as the pandemic took its toll on stockpiles across the world. The sugar industry has teamed up with distilleries to help restock this critical item.

In Florida, the members of Florida Sugar & Molasses Exchange are donating molasses to Tampa Bay Rum Company to produce sanitizer that will be donated to doctors, hospitals, police, fire, EMTs, letter and package carriers or any frontline workers. U.S. Sugar is donating fermentable sugar to Sugar Sand Distillery in Lake Placid to make sanitizer.

Three Roll Estate Distillery in Baton Rouge normally makes rum, but with the help of the sugarcane industry in Louisiana, they’re now distilling a higher proof alcohol for hand sanitizer.

Domino Sugar’s Baltimore refinery donated sugar to Lost Ark Distilling, which will use it to create ethanol, one of the ingredients in the hand sanitizer it is producing and donating to local hospitals and first responders.

In Illinois, American Sugar Refining (ASR) Group is donating sugar and molasses to KOVAL Distillery, which will use it to create ethanol for hand sanitizer that will be given to fire stations, hospitals and ambulance companies.

“By continuing to support each other and our neighbors, we will get through this crisis together and will be stronger for it,” ASR Group said.

We’re proud to lend a helping hand as we all fight COVID-19 together.

America’s Sugar Industry Launches SugarSustainably.org

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 SugarSustainably.org 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. SugarSustainably.org 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.

SugarSustainably.org 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.

Sugar Producers Send Letter to Conaway, Peterson Prior to Mark-Up

The American Sugar Alliance sent a letter to leaders of the House Agriculture Committee yesterday, thanking the panel’s members for supporting sugar policy and asking for support in defeating possible Farm Bill amendments.

The letter expressed sugar farmers’ opposition to legislative proposals to mandate oversupplies with subsidized foreign imports and to exclude sugar farmers from loans that are available to other commodities.

Text of the letter, which was signed by the American Sugar Alliance executive committee, reads as follows:

Dear Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson:

On behalf of 142,000 U.S. sugar farmers and workers, we thank you both for your continued support of America’s no-cost sugar policy.  As the industry’s bankers and accountants noted in the attached letter, sugar producers are facing dire economic pressures right now, and a strong sugar policy will be essential to their ability to obtain financing and weather the storm.

Opponents of this policy – driven by multinational food manufacturers – are aggressively attacking sugar producers’ safety net, which is designed to counter foreign subsidies and unfair trade practices.  These attacks come even though food makers have achieved strong profits by charging consumers more for sweetened products and pocketing the savings from sugar prices that are lower today than in 1980.

We will depend on your leadership to beat back legislative attempts to further depress farmers’ prices with heavily subsidized imports.  Components of H.R. 4265, which we call the “Sugar Farmer Bankruptcy Bill,” could be offered as Farm Bill amendments, and we fear these policy overhauls would have disastrous consequences if enacted.

There is overwhelming bipartisan support for current sugar policy in the House Agriculture Committee, and its members will be on solid footing in continuing their support.  U.S. grocery shoppers pay 22 percent less for sugar than the rest of the developed world.  Meanwhile, U.S. confectioners pay 25 percent less than companies in other developed countries and have announced more than 100 domestic expansion projects since the 2014 Farm Bill took hold.

After years of dealing with a market distorted by unlawful, subsidized Mexican sugar imports, U.S. producers need some financial certainty right now.  A five-year Farm Bill will go a long way towards providing that certainty, and we hope Congress can deliver a bill this year.

We commend each of you for the manner in which sugar policy discussions have gone to date and appreciate the continuation of existing policy in H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.  We look forward to working with you as the Farm Bill process unfolds.

Union Workers Pave The Way for Sugar Farmers

If you work on Capitol Hill, chances are good you’ve run into a sugar farmer this week.  After all, there are dozens of them in town meeting with hundreds of offices.

But it’s not just farmers who are spreading the message, “Don’t cut my family out of the Farm Bill.”  Union workers were in town a week earlier making the rounds.

“Meeting the different representatives and being able to talk to them and understand their point of view and explaining why you’re fighting for something is important,” said William Bland, a sugar worker from Florida and member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union (IAM).

IAM is among the many organizations pushing for a strong sugar policy and fighting attempts to weaken it in the upcoming Farm Bill.

Farm policy opponents are currently lobbying to outsource U.S. sugar production and good-paying U.S. jobs to heavily subsidized foreign industries that are known to have poor environmental and labor standards.

Mark Thompson was one of the IAM Florida Sugar Workers members who made the trip to D.C. to ask lawmakers to oppose this outsourcing scheme.

“Walking the extra mile to protect our jobs is what we’re doing,” he said. “You should never be afraid to speak about something that’s important to you.”

Their trip came at an important time.  Not only is Congress debating the Farm Bill, but America’s foreign competitors are busy manipulating the market in hopes of getting a leg up.

India, the world’s second biggest sugar producer, just announced a doubling of sugar import duties to protect its domestic industry, bringing the total tax to 100%.  And Pakistan increased subsidies to increase exports.

All told, more than 100 countries subsidize sugar production around the world.  America’s sugar policy, which costs taxpayers $0 because it is based on loans repaid with interest instead of government checks, is all U.S. producers have to counter these foreign subsidies.

IAM Florida Sugar Workers member Cornelius Fowler knows what is at stake if subsidized foreign sugar floods the market.

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