By: Tom Hamburger and James Hohmann
Excerpt: For decades, it’s been an unspoken rule among Washington’s agricultural lobbyists: advocates for one crop do not attack other crops, so that everyone’s benefits can be protected.
But a leading member of the traditionally united community plans to do just that: the Corn Refiners Association is about to invest heavily in an effort to unwind the lucrative breaks afforded to sugar, which are among the most generous in U.S. agriculture.
… While other crop subsidies have withered, Washington’s taste for sugar has been constant. The sugar program, which has existed in various forms since the 1930s, uses an elaborate system of import quotas, price floors and taxpayer-backed loans to prop up domestic growers, which number fewer than 4,500.
Sugar’s protected status is largely explained by the sophistication and clout of a small but wealthy interest group that includes beet farmers in the Upper Midwest, cane growers in the South and the politically connected Fanjul family of Florida, who control a substantial part of the world sugar market. That mix of factors has led to an eclectic coalition on sugar’s side, from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
“While every other farm support program has received multiple rounds of reforms, big sugar has not been touched,” said John Bode, CEO of the Corn Refiners group.
Read the full piece here.