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.”
Stabenow stressed that the $20 billion in annual economic activity and the more than 140,000 jobs generated by the country’s sugar producers make it a worthwhile investment on Capitol Hill. She outlined her agenda when it comes to future sugar issues:
“It’s important that we again find a path forward with the Mexican government on [sugar] trade. It’s important that we keep the Farm Bill intact and free from attacks designed to undermine the five-year sugar policy and beyond. And it’s important that we are ensuring that the interests of U.S. sugar [producers] are represented in the larger trade agenda. I am laser focused on all of those things.”
And Stabenow will have plenty of help from her colleague, Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, who also spoke to the group via video.
“Sugar policy, for me, is easy to defend,” he explained, telling sugar producers that he looks forward to working closely with them during development of the next Farm Bill.
Conaway noted that sugar policy is needed because of foreign subsidization and predatory dumping, where foreign nations export excess sugar at below their cost of production.
“It works,” he said of the current no-cost U.S. sugar policy. “It works for the American taxpayer, and more importantly it works for the American sugar producer.”