Earlier this week, the Big Candy lobby sent a bizarre letter to the Department of Commerce (DOC) discussing, among other things, the need to gut U.S. sugar policy in the next Farm Bill. Aside from the fact that the DOC has nothing to do with negotiating a Farm Bill, this letter had a glaring factual error worth pointing out.
“When the ink was barely dry on the present farm bill, big sugar processors defaulted on government loans, [and] taxpayers were left holding the bag,” the Sweetener Users Association (SUA) wrote.
Fact check: The “present farm bill” was signed into law on February 7, 2014. Meanwhile, the expenses SUA described were incurred in 2013 under the previous Farm Bill.
SUA also failed to mention the fact that those expenses – the first sugar-related taxpayer cost in a decade – were the result of the government taking extraordinary actions to keep the North American sugar market from collapsing after Mexico dumped subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market.
It is ironic that SUA would have excluded this point in a letter to the DOC considering it was the DOC that found Mexico guilty of violating U.S. trade law and harming U.S. sugar producers and U.S. taxpayers. It was also the DOC that negotiated the suspension agreements that are intended to prevent Mexico from causing further harm.
The truth is, U.S. sugar policy has cost taxpayers exactly $0 since the 2014 Farm Bill was signed, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Congressional Budget Office project that it will continue to cost $0 under the life of that farm bill.
And that $0 is a lot less than the taxpayer dollars flowing to the candy industry under the current Farm Bill. Here’s how the National Confectioners Association describes it on their website:
More than $2 million in marketing subsidies is available to the confectionery industry for the 12-month period beginning in January. Designed to provide assistance in promoting confectionery products on the international market, these funds are available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Market Access Program and are managed by the National Confectioners Association….
[Candy companies should] act now before all of the allocations are distributed. Participation has grown considerably in the past several years.
Not surprisingly, Big Candy has said very little publicly about their Farm Bill subsidies. After all, they are far too busy complaining about a no-cost sugar policy and trying to rig the system for heavily subsidized foreign sugar producers.