Legislation introduced to reform sugar program

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — Representatives Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Danny Davis of Illinois have introduced the Free Market Sugar Act in an effort to reform the U.S. sugar program. On the same note, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana has introduced the Free Sugar Act of 2011.

The government officials believe the efforts would create a free market in sugar as well as free small businesses and consumers from paying government-inflated food prices and free sugar producers from commands of Washington.

“The New Deal-era program has been big government at its worst for decades,” Mr. Lugar said. “It picks the pocket of every American with a hidden tax, drives jobs overseas and enriches a handful of powerful sugar producers in the United States. It is one of the worst forms of government interventionism in America.

“Creating sugar subsidies was among the first votes I took in the Senate in 1977. We have made several efforts to further cut wasteful sugar programs and reform the entire farm bill. With more members of Congress willing to take on reform efforts, it’s time to finish the job.”

There is currently a complex arrangement of price supports, import quotas, tariffs, loans and marketing allotments in place. As a result, U.S. sugar prices are at or near all-time highs, and the U.S. sugar prices are well above world sugar prices.

Proponents of the legislation claim the current system is especially costly for small business bakers, candy markets and restaurants, and also hurts manufacturers that compete with imports that benefit from lower world sugar price. It is estimated the cost of the U.S. sugar program to all Americans is $4 billion a year.

On the other side of the issue, the American Sugar Alliance issued a statement saying according to two recent reports, “Sugar policy, which hasn’t cost taxpayers a dime since 2001, will remain not cost through 2021.”

“In this era of fiscal responsibility, it’s hard to imagine being more fiscally responsible than no cost,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmer’s Union and a proponent of the sugar policy. “Maintaining a strong no-cost sugar policy in the next Farm Bill is a priority for N.F.U., and we know that such a continuation would help keep rural economies strong.”

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