U.S. sugar farmers took aim at attempts to gut America’s no-cost sugar policy in a new advertising campaign today, calling the anti-farmer efforts “discriminatory,” “America-last,” and “bankruptcy” inducing.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on a Farm Bill that was approved in April by the Agriculture Committee. That bill continued America’s current sugar policy, but some farm policy critics are pushing for an amendment to weaken it by limiting loans available to sugar producers and forcing the importation of more subsidized foreign sugar.
Multinational food manufacturers are lobbying for the amendment, which would be modeled after legislation introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Danny Davis (D-IL), in hopes of driving down farmers’ prices and boosting company profits.
That didn’t sit well with America’s sugar farmers, who rejected the notion that these changes are “modest reform,” as agriculture’s opponents claim, and fear the amendment could put them out of business.
“Excluding us from loans available to other crops isn’t ‘modest reform’ – it’s discriminatory,” read an ad in today’s Wall Street Journal that featured the Ourso family, which grows sugarcane in White Castle, La.
The Foxx-Davis bill would prevent sugar producers from taking out non-recourse loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – loans that are available to 27 other commodities. These loans, which are repaid with interest, are the foundation of sugar farmers’ safety net and make it possible for producers to pay bills over the long periods of time they are storing sugar for customers.
The Foxx-Davis proposal would also mandate that the USDA oversupply the sugar market with unneeded imports – a move that would depress the prices sugar producers receive for their products. U.S. consumers already pay 22 percent less for sugar than grocery shoppers in other developed countries.
“Sending the price we get for our sugar back to 1985 lows isn’t ‘modest reform’ – it’s bankruptcy,” explained the Bakke family of Ulen, Minn., in another ad that will soon run.
That sentiment is shared by dozens of bankers and accountants who work with sugar farmers across the country and recently sent lawmakers a letter opposing the Foxx-Davis plan.
The Rutherford family, which grows sugarbeets in Grafton, North Dakota, appeared in a third advertisement. “Giving our market away to subsidized foreign industries isn’t ‘modest reform’ – it’s America-last,” they explained. America is already the world’s third largest sugar importer.
Other families are being featured in digital messages appearing throughout the nation’s capital, urging Congress, “Don’t cut my family out of the Farm Bill…support U.S. sugar policy.”