FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-271-5734 (cell)
From the International Sweetener Symposium:
STOWE, Vt.— Lawmakers have voted eight times in the past two years to continue U.S. sugar policy, and according to the American Sugar Alliance’s Jack Roney, that is proof that Congress strongly supports America’s sugar farmers and the 142,000 jobs they underpin.
“Sugar policy is the least expensive commodity policy in the Farm Bill and it gives efficient U.S. producers an opportunity to compete in a global market awash in subsidization and manipulation,” he said today at the 31st International Sweetener Symposium. “What’s more, even our political opponents, big candy companies, have banked record profits under the policy.”
But Randy Green with the Sweetener Users Association (SUA) said food manufacturers and their allies would continue campaigns against U.S. sugar policy.
The basic structure of the current policy, he acknowledged, “is likely in place for a while.” Therefore, he said, sugar policy opponents aren’t looking to repeal the entire program but rather to “reform” it.
During the Farm Bill debate, some of the changes for which SUA lobbied included changes to the way the USDA administered import quotas and elimination of the feedstock flexibility program. Green criticized the program because it ran at a taxpayer cost in 2013. Roney noted that sugar policy had run without cost the previous 10 years and only had a cost in 2013 because Mexico dumped subsidized sugar onto the market.
Roney said the sweetener users’ efforts failed because their proposals were designed to cripple sugar farmers’ safety net instead of improve it. He also explained that had such proposals been accepted, efficient U.S. producers would have been hard pressed to compete with heavily subsidized foreign producers and survive today’s low-price environment.
The ASA has publicly endorsed a policy alternative known as the zero-for-zero sugar policy where America agrees to eliminate its sugar policy once foreign countries end their subsidization and allow a free market to take shape. Roney said it is ASA’s preferred path because it will enable the most efficient businesses, instead of the most subsidized, to succeed. SUA opposes that plan.
Despite their differences on sugar policy, both Roney and Green said the industries are in alignment and will work together on nutrition and other issues.