FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-271-5734 (cell)
From the International Sweetener Symposium:
STOWE, Vt.—With the 2014 Farm Bill in the rear view mirror, farmers must remain vigilant in protecting the farm safety net. That was the clear message delivered today by leaders of the two biggest farm organizations at the 31st International Sweetener Symposium.
Mary Kay Thatcher of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Chandler Goule of the National Farmers Union (NFU) said sugar farmers should be applauded for their hard work in helping secure a strong Farm Bill, but warned that attacks on sugar policy will be an ongoing threat.
“It will be important for sugar farmers to continue to educate lawmakers not just in sugar producing states but in all corners of the country,” said Thatcher. “Foreign countries heavily subsidize sugar production and America’s low-cost policy is essential to maintain homegrown supplies.”
Both the NFU and AFBF have official policy resolutions supporting the continuation of the current sugar program and said they would help protect it.
The panelists also said growers should keep an eye on non-Farm Bill related issues that could also threaten rural America.
“The EPA is considering changes to the way the country looks at the renewable fuel standard and to the way it oversees bodies of water on farmers’ land. In addition to that, U.S. and international courts are ruling on attempts to keep U.S. consumers from knowing what country their food is produced in,” Goule said. “Decisions made on these fronts will dramatically affect rural economies, so we’re fighting to make sure that our farmers’ and ranchers’ voices are being heard.”
Thatcher called the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Waters of the U.S. regulation the most important issue facing agriculture right now. She said if the agency moves forward with the rule and continues to “overreach,” then legislation may be necessary “to stop EPA from moving forward with this land grab.”
Jack Roney, an economist with the American Sugar Alliance, noted that increased regulatory burdens over the years have affected sugar farmers as well. Rising business costs, coupled with low sugar prices, put Americans at a disadvantage in a heavily subsidized global sugar market, he said.