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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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