WASHINGTON — The Independent Bakers Association in a June 24 letter asked the US Department of Agriculture to use existing legal authorities to “act immediately to increase available sugar supplies.”  

“Sugar prices in the US are at 50-year highs,” Nick Pyle, president of the IBA, wrote in a letter to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “Currently, the spot price of domestic sugar is over three times the world price based on Sosland Publishing’s active tracking. Spot beet sugar is unavailable in the United States, and cane sugar is 68¢ per lb. The world price of (raw) sugar is hovering around 19¢ per lb.

“Mr. Secretary, one of your Department’s many jobs is to effectively manage the US supply of sugar and ensure users can buy what they need. Frankly, the Department is failing miserably to protect sugar users and consumers. The US Sugar Program costs Americans $2 billion to $4 billion annually based on $0.30 domestic sugar. The Department’s failure to manage supply exacerbates the current rate of inflated food prices, with some economists warning us to expect 17% increases in pricing. Understanding that domestic sugar prices are presently twice that used in the calculation above, your Department’s fiasco in managing sugar supplies unnecessarily adds billions of dollars to the cost of food, impacting the nation’s inflation rate and domestic food supply.”

The IBA urged the USDA to raise the tariff-rate quota high enough to stabilize the domestic sugar price at no more than twice (or less) the world price; to reassign TRQs from nations that do not export to the United States to ones that will; and to rescind the order including organic sugar in the calculation of sugar ending stocks-to-use ratios.

“While inflation is an ongoing issue, the Department enjoys the power to take immediate action on sugar supplies and bring markets into balance,” the letter concluded.