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

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

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

From the International Sweetener Symposium:

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

Sugar Industry Thanks Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Staff for Their Service

From the International Sweetener Symposium:

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

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

Messages from Congressional Leaders Set Stage for Sweetener Symposium

From the International Sweetener Symposium:

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

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

New Study Spotlights India’s Sugar Subsidy Schemes

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

India’s Farmers Exploit Tax Loophole Subsidy

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

India’s Export-Import Yo-Yo

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

A Strong Farm Safety Net is Essential Right Now

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

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

Attaboy, Attachés

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

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

What Goes Up Doesn’t Always Come Down

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

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

World Price Volatility Continues. So Do Subsidies.

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

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

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

University of Maryland Economist Details Business Returns Under Current Sugar Policy

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

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

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

This Week in the News

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

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

Rural Economy Sputters, Sugar Feels the Sting

During a recent hearing to examine the health of the rural economy, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) noted that farm income has plummeted 56 percent since 2013. That, he said, represented the worst stretch since the depression of the ’30s. “In short, we have a very serious problem unfolding right now in rural…

A Proud History Worth Continuing

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

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