The American Sugar Alliance released data at its 28th International Sweetener Symposium that shows closures of sugar mills, refineries and plants under current sugar policy have dropped dramatically. Only two plants have closed since the 2008 Farm Bill was passed and ASA Chairman Jack Pettus says that’s because current sugar policy acts as a safety net for farmers. The report also cites data showing a 9% increase in candy production since 2004 and 2.5% since 2008. Pettus says sugar policy clearly has been an economic success and Congress should be proud of creating a policy that helps sugar farmers and food manufacturers without costing taxpayers a dime.
In the past 40 years, a total of 103 sugar-producing facilities have closed, but large food manufacturers are lobbying to end current sugar policy. Pettus says it’s economically and politically irresponsible to return to a day when sugar prices fell below the cost of production, sugar farmers were exiting the business and sugar workers were losing their jobs. He says the current policy should be extended in the next Farm Bill because sugar users are expanding profits and production knowing they can depend on a geographically diverse domestic sugar industry to provide just in time delivery of their sugar. Most importantly, Pettus says taxpayers aren’t footing the bill.
The American Enterprise Institute recently hosted a Capitol Hill panel discussion on current sugar policy and suggestions to move forward. American Sugar Alliance Economist Jack Roney participated in the discussion. Despite AEI’s statements that deregulation of the sugar program would reduce domestic sugar prices, Roney presented facts about how Americans spend a smaller percent of their incomes to purchase sugar than consumers in any other country in the world.
Roney notes the lack of correlation between producer prices for sugar and retail prices of sugary products, pointing out that when sugar prices were low during the past 20 years, consumer prices for candy bars and other items seemed to rise along with retail sugar prices. Roney says calls to eliminate current U.S. sugar policy could lead to dependence on often-unreliable foreign suppliers for sugar. He says the current policy is a no-cost success story because it doesn’t cost U.S. taxpayers a dime while ensuring a high quality, reasonably priced and safe sugar product for American consumers.