The Senate Agriculture Committee today approved its version of the Farm Bill, which included the continuation of America’s successful no-cost sugar policy. The American Sugar Alliance released the following statement in response:
“On behalf of 142,000 sugar farmers and workers, we thank the committee and its leaders for their continued support of America’s no-cost sugar policy. Sugar producers have struggled with depressed prices for the last four years and a strong sugar policy will be essential to their ability to recover and obtain the financing needed to stay in business.
“During this Farm Bill, anti-farmer groups have aggressively attacked this safety net, which is designed to counter foreign subsidies and unfair trade practices. Sugar farmers and workers will depend on the committee’s continued leadership to beat back legislative attempts to further depress sugar farmers’ prices with subsidized imports.
“U.S. producers need financial certainty as they recover from the aftermath of Mexico unlawfully dumping subsidized sugar in the market and helping drive the Hawaiian industry out of business. A five-year Farm Bill with a strong sugar policy will go a long way towards providing that certainty, and we hope Congress can deliver a bill soon.
Sugar policy will likely come under attack when the bill moves to the Senate floor. Farm policy opponents have signaled support for a legislative proposal that would exclude sugar producers from loans available to other crops, mandate market oversupplies with subsidized imports, and send sugar farmers’ prices back to 1980s levels.
A similar effort was proposed in the House and was soundly rejected by a 141-vote margin. Sugar producers hailed the vote as proof that lawmakers stand firm with American farmers and against predatory trade practices.
In March, more than 60 banks and accounting firms sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee opposing efforts to weaken U.S. sugar policy, noting such efforts could lead to bankruptcies in farm country and disruptions for grocery shoppers.