By Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance
American family farmers work around the clock to grow the sugar crops that help feed our nation. Phil Gramm and Donald J. Boudreaux demonize them by referencing a flawed GAO report that ignores the serious threat to our farmers and agricultural communities by foreign subsidies and predatory trade practices that profoundly distort the global sugar market.
Far from “a politically connected few,” more than 151,000 jobs across two dozen states–including Mr. Gramm’s home state of Texas– rely on a strong domestic sugar industry, which contributes more than $23 billion each year to the U.S. economy. The policies in place level the playing field for American sugarbeet and sugarcane family farmers and sugar factory workers who face unfair competition resulting from foreign subsidies.
American sugar policy comes at zero cost to taxpayers while ensuring a reliable supply of sugar to households and food companies. America’s strong supply chain for sugar allows food companies to run their factories without pause or the need for huge storage facilities, saving them hundreds of millions each year. The policy also helps U.S. farmers to increase productivity and to meet high labor and environmental standards, which are well above those in most other sugar-producing countries. The authors and the flawed GAO report also fail to consider those benefits.
Americans overwhelmingly prefer homegrown American sugar and support our farmers. As the world’s third-largest sugar importer, the U.S. is already heavily dependent on unreliable foreign producers. A strong domestic industry is strategically important for the production of an essential ingredient for the food security of our nation. Opening markets to a flood of heavily subsidized sugar imports would result in the offshoring of our family farms and leave consumers and food manufacturers at the whims of increasingly volatile sugar markets.
Congress has strongly supported policies that keep the playing field fair for American farmers, improve farm productivity, and maintain strong supply chains for food and agriculture. The American Sugar Alliance looks forward to working with other commodity groups and Congress to craft and pass a new Farm Bill that does just that.