This week marks the 78-year anniversary of sugar rationing. During World War II, sugar was so critical, and in such short supply since the U.S. was heavily dependent on foreign suppliers, that it was the first item to be rationed and the last item to be removed from the rationing list two years after the war ended.
“Sugar is scarce, make it stretch,” one government poster urged Americans during WWII.
It’s an appropriate moment to remember this anniversary, as the world is once again at war; this time, against an invisible enemy.
There is one critical difference: U.S. farm and trade policies ensure that we now have access to an affordable and sustainable supply of sugar.
During the 1940s, America was largely reliant on foreign nations for sugar. After the war ended and restrictions were lifted, the U.S. government sought to encourage the production of sugar here at home to make sure Americans were never again without this important food ingredient.
Now, American sugarcane and sugarbeet growers and the workers who process the crop into refined sugar ensure that we have a reliable domestic source of this essential ingredient. The millions of dollars that U.S. sugar producers have invested in the U.S. supply chain ensures product gets to market quickly. And, America’s no-cost sugar policy supports 142,000 jobs in more than 20 states with an economic impact of $20 billion.
More importantly, today’s sugar policy provides flexibility to ensure that we maintain an adequate supply of homegrown and imported sugar, while ensuring we are not dependent on foreign sugar suppliers.
As the world works quickly to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, measures meant to stop the virus have also complicated supply chains and, in some cases, have slowed delivery of food ingredients. Yet grocery store shelves remain stocked with sugar at a stable price.
We are so thankful for the men and women in the sugar industry who continue to provide us with the sugar we need to provide nourishing and comforting meals to our families. In the uncertain times caused by the COVID-19, it’s reassuring to know that sugar is one less thing the American public has to worry about.