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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Promises Kept or Promises Broken?

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

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

Peculiarities of Presidential Politics

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

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

U.S. Sugar Producers Comment on Final TPP Language

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

We See Your True Colors Shining Through

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

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

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

Candy Profits Are Scary Good This Halloween

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

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

Sugar Producers Call for End of Global Subsidies at Congressional Hearing

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

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

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

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

CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-507-8303

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

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

Sugar Policy Critics Raking in the Dough

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

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

U.S. Sugar Producers Comment on TPP Deal

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

The Power of Community

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

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

Commerce Dept. Rules that Mexican Sugar Subsidies Distorted Trade

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

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

10 Years After the Destruction

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

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

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

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

The Truth Hurts, Mate

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

U.S. Sugar Producers Excel in Another Measurement of Efficiency

Besides exposing Thailand’s $1.3 billion a year in sugar subsidies, Antoine Meriot also made another valuable observation in his recent study. It compared the efficiencies of sugar makers, noting, “Thai sugar producers are relatively inefficient compared with other major producers, such as leading exporter Brazil.” Specifically, Meriot used sugar recovery rates – a measurement of…

Big Candy’s Big Whopper About Taxpayer Cost

The Big Candy lobby and others who want to outsource U.S. sugar production and U.S. sugar jobs have publicly decried U.S. sugar policy because of its cost to taxpayers. Sugar critics base this talking point on a one-year anomaly. But is sugar policy really a drain on U.S. taxpayers? Not according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Congressional Budget Office, or the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute – all of which agree that sugar policy will cost $0 over the life of the current farm bill.

Big Candy’s Big Whopper About Prices

The Big Candy lobby and others who want to outsource U.S. sugar production and U.S. sugar jobs have said that U.S. sugar policy harms consumers by keeping domestic prices higher than the rest of the world. Sugar critics base this talking point on the faulty assumption that cheap subsidized sugar from the “dump market” flows freely everywhere else in the world. But is foreign sugar really that cheap?

Sugar Producers Defend Free Markets on Chinese News Show

It’s not every day when the American affiliate of the predominant television broadcaster in Mainland China calls for an interview. And it’s even more rare when the topic the state-run network wants to discuss is how government intervention is wrecking global markets. But that is exactly what happened last week when Jack Roney of the American Sugar Alliance was invited to the set of CCTV America, the U.S. division of China Central Television News.

Big Candy Details Dominance in Chicago

It’s not often when confectioners openly admit the success of their industry. After all, doing so cuts against the tales they spin on Capitol Hill of sugar policy causing economic hardship. But as the American Sugar Alliance’s compilation of good candy news demonstrates, Big Candy’s business has been firing on all cylinders since the most…

Brazil Should Take the Next Step to Zero-for-Zero Sugar Policy

For two years, U.S. sugar producers have pushed for a multilateral solution to the global sugar subsidies that have wrecked the global market.

Under this plan, known as the Zero-for-Zero sugar policy, sugar producers around the world would eliminate sugar subsidies and market-distorting policies so that a free market can form. And the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the logical venue for such reforms to be accomplished.

Sugar Producers Comment on Latest DOC Decision

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) yesterday granted standing to Imperial Sugar Co. and AmCane Sugar LLC in the antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) cases filed last year against Mexico’s sugar industry. The AD/CVD cases had been suspended following an agreement reached between the U.S. and Mexican governments, but will recommence as a result of the latest DOC decision.

Big Candy Tries to Sneak Farm Bill Rider Onto African Trade Bill

The Big Candy lobby and its congressional allies launched a surprise attack against U.S. sugar policy on April 22. And it used a highly unusual vehicle in its attempt to sabotage the recently passed farm bill: an African aid package.

An amendment offered by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey would have used the African Growth and Opportunity Act to flood the U.S. market with unneeded sugar imports.

The Senate Finance Committee rejected the scheme on a 10-16 vote, with the panel’s top Republican and Democrat – Sens. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) – both opposing the plan.

It’s Easter Time

It’s that time of year again. Birds are chirping, trees are budding, and bulbs are flowering.

Small children are excited about spring break, egg hunts, and decorated Easter baskets.

And Big Candy is busy complaining on Capitol Hill even though they are selling more product than ever – more than $2.2 billion worth of candy this Easter alone.

ITC: Suspension Agreements Remove the Injury Caused by Unfairly Traded Mexican Sugar

CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-507-8303

WASHINGTON—The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today upheld the agreements between the U.S. and Mexican governments to stop subsidized Mexican sugar from being dumped onto the U.S. market. The ITC was asked to determine whether the governments’ settlement adequately removed the injury caused by unfairly traded Mexican sugar.

India Responds to Subsidy Critics with More Subsidies

The global sugar community chastised India when it announced export subsidies last year that seem to be in clear violation of WTO rules. Those subsidies, which were set at $53 a ton in February and increased to $54 a ton later in the year, helped the country offload 2.8 million tons onto the already depressed global market in 2014.

India responded to the international criticism by upping the subsidy to $64 a ton in 2015.

Sugar Producers Back Zero-for-Zero Policy Reintroduction

CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-507-8303

WASHINGTON-Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) reintroduced his Zero-for-Zero sugar policy, on Friday, which would instruct the administration to target the foreign sugar subsidies that are distorting world prices and keeping a free market from forming. Under the plan, U.S. sugar policy would also be rolled back in exchange for the elimination of foreign programs.

Members of the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) praised Yoho and the eight original co-sponsors of H.Con.Res. 20, and said sugar farmers from across the country are in town this week to educate lawmakers about the current U.S. policy and to encourage support for the resolution.

How High Can it Go?

India’s sugar export subsidy is probably illegal under World Trade Organization rules, but that hasn’t stopped the country from – once again – making adjustments to it. And surprise, surprise, the adjustment will send the subsidy higher, not lower.

In late January, India’s food minister signed off on an export subsidy rate of 4,000 rupees ($64) per ton of raw sugar. That’s up from a subsidy of 3,300 ($53) rupees per ton, which was set in February of 2014 and then promptly increased to 3,371 ($54) rupees in August.

India exported 2.8 million tons of sugar last year with the aid of this subsidy, and this year, the Indian sugar lobby says it will need to offload about 2 million tons to keep domestic prices high.

Pot Calling the Kettle ‘Protectionist’

It’s no big secret that big candy companies like to badmouth sugar farmers for being “protectionist.”

Even though America is the world’s biggest sugar importer, the market is never quite open enough for the candy man’s liking. Heavily subsidized sugar grown by less efficient foreign countries with substandard labor, environmental, and safety standards should flow freely through America, even if it bankrupts rural businesses and farms, they contend.

Heck, the confectioner lobby has even bashed sugar producers for asking that U.S. laws be enforced to stop Mexico from dumping subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market and harming U.S. sugar producers and taxpayers.

USDA: Sugar Policy to Cost $0 for Next Decade

CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-507-8303

WASHINGTON—U.S. sugar policy is expected to cost taxpayers $0 from FY2015 to FY2025, according to projections released last week by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Sugar policy is the least expensive major commodity policy in the Farm Bill because farmers repay loans with interest instead of receiving subsidy checks. It ran at no cost to taxpayers from 2003 to 2012 and again in 2014.

There was a net cost of $259 million in 2013 when the USDA had to take emergency action to prevent the market from collapsing after Mexico dumped a record amount of subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market.

OPEC of Sugar Lives Up to its Name

With a dominant 50% market share of global sugar exports, Brazil can exert more control over prices than any other sugar producer. Brazilian subsidies and policy decisions affect consumers and farmers around the world, who are helpless to combat a behemoth whose primary goal is to increase its monopolistic reign.

It’s why Brazil is called the OPEC of sugar, and it’s why we were not surprised to read about how even decisions in Brazil’s gasoline sector can move sugar prices.

Farm Bureau Continues Sugar Policy Support

The American Farm Bureau Federation recently completed its 2015 annual convention and with it the group’s 2015 policy positions. The nation’s largest farm organization continued its supportive stance of U.S. sugar policy. The Farm Bureau’s position on sugar reads: We support: (1) A program to protect the interests of domestic sugar producers and recommend that…

Sugar and Candy, Making La. Sweet for Centuries

Louisiana sugar producers are fond of saying that their industry is older than the country itself.  Formed when Jesuit priests first planted the crop in New Orleans in 1751, the industry has survived hurricanes, droughts, and even a Civil War to grow into an economic engine.

Sugar is woven into the fabric of the state’s heritage arguably as much any other crop anywhere else in the country and even has a college football bowl game named after it.

Unfortunately, a proud tradition doesn’t always equate financial success, which farmers in south Louisiana have found out the hard way in recent years.  A flood of subsidized Mexican sugar was dumped onto the U.S. market sending prices spiraling, even as the price for things like equipment, seed, and fuel steadily rose.

Global Sugar Market to Stay Sour; Global Subsidies Rise

World sugar prices are depressed and are likely to remain in the doldrums over the coming year as surpluses overhang the market. That’s according to a Dec. 24 report issued by Rabobank, one of the largest banks in the world and key lender to the U.S. food industry.

Rabobank pointed to the growing cycle of sugar cane, which is a semi-perennial crop that prevents producers from quickly downshifting production, as a factor in the continued oversupply.