The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, recently released a report demanding the elimination of farm policy, including crop insurance and the safety nets for producers of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, dairy, sorghum, sugar, and other crops.
Extreme? Yes. Surprising? No. Heritage has been against farm policy for as long as most people can remember.
Taxpayer cost is Heritage’s main rationale for hating the policies that back America’s farmers and ranchers – an investment in food security that represents less than half of one-percent of the federal budget, by the way.
But sugar policy is designed to operate without taxpayers cost, as it has done over the life of the 2014 Farm Bill. So what’s their beef with sugar? According to Heritage, U.S. policy causes sugar in America to cost “twice what it costs on the world market.”
Seems a little fact checking is in order.
USDA data show that food manufacturers paid 28.5 cents for a pound of U.S. sugar in August. Meanwhile, the average cost to buy and ship sugar from the world market to America in August was 30.34 cents per pound.
In other words, it costs more to source subsidized foreign sugar today than it does to purchase sugar that is grown right here at home. Not exactly, “twice what it costs on the world market,” as this critic claims.
So, was Heritage talking about bags of sugar on the grocery store shelf instead of the wholesale stuff sold to food companies? No. A little more fact checking and you see that doesn’t make any sense either.
Shoppers around the world pay, on average, 20% more for sugar than we do in America, according to a report released last year by SIS International. The global market research company further found that consumers in similar developed nations are forking over 29% more for sugar in grocery stores.
It’s unclear why Heritage is focusing so much of their time and energy on harming rural America. What is clear is that their recommendations are void of fact and reason and are built upon ignorance and deception.
ASA spokesman Phillip Hayes summed up the situation pretty well in a recent article:
For decades, Heritage has advocated that America unilaterally disarm its sugar policy and outsource its sugar production to subsidized foreign traders. Meanwhile, it has opposed Congressman Ted Yoho’s Zero-for-Zero sugar policyto fight global subsidies so that a free market can form.
Kinda makes you wonder what team Heritage is playing for in the world of agricultural trade. It’s certainly not Team USA.