From the 35th International Sweetener Symposium:
“Could the race to the bottom be slowing down?” Jack Roney, an economist with the American Sugar Alliance, posed the provocative question during today’s International Sweetener Symposium.
On the heels of the latest Farm Bill debate, which saw attacks against America’s no-cost sugar policy soundly rebuffed, Roney questioned whether interest in outsourcing U.S. production to foreign subsidizers had finally fizzled.
“Rather than rewarding countries with the lowest standards and fueling a race to the bottom, Congress is clearly more interested in supporting U.S. producers who have the world’s highest labor and environmental standards and grow food in a sustainable fashion,” he told the group. “It’s a smart America-first shift.”
Bloody legislative battles over sugar policy and razor-thin votes have marked farm and trade policy debates in recent years, he explained. But this year, the agriculture committees voted to maintain America’s sugar policy without dissention, and the House defeated an attack on U.S. sugar farmers by a bipartisan 141-vote margin.
“Policymakers are interested in raising the bar and benefitting workers,” he explained. “Getting a fair price for sugar globally and here at home is a big key to achieving that goal.”
Roney continued: “We want free and fair trade that is void of market-distorting subsidies. And we believe that grocery shoppers and food manufacturers are well served with reasonably-priced, high-quality, sustainably-grown American sugar.”
Mars Wrigley is one of those companies. And even though the company doesn’t see eye-to-eye with U.S. sugar producers on sugar policy, it is keenly interested in improving sustainability throughout its entire supply chain.
Paul Steed, the company’s senior global price risk lead for sugar, walked the group of more than 400 sugar industry leaders through Mars’ plans to become “sustainable in a generation.”
“The world is facing significant challenges like poverty, food insecurity and climate change,” he said. “Businesses like ours have a significant role to play in tackling these challenges.”
Steed said the plan includes investments to reduce environmental impacts, improve the working lives of its suppliers and advance science and innovation in a positive way.