Upcoming Event: International Sweetener Colloquium

The 2014 International Sweetener Colloquium will be held February 23-26, 2014, at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California.

More information can be found here.

The Importance of Sweetener Trade Liberalization

Sweetener Users Association
Oral Statement By: Tom Earley, Vice President of Agralytica

… SUA has a long history of supporting U.S. trade agreements because they’re consistent with SUA’s goals of more open and liberal trade policies.  I have appeared many times before the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of SUA to endorse these liberalization efforts.

We strongly support the efforts of the U.S. government to achieve substantial improvements in market access in the TTIP negotiations.  But for this opportunity to be realized, the TTIP must provide a meaningful and ambitious result on agriculture.

Read the full testimony here.

Sugar Subsidy Yields Bitter Harvest

Wisconsin State Journal

Let’s count the winners and losers from the federal program that subsidizes sugar production.

Winners: The sugar industry.

Losers: Consumers, the economy, the environment, taxpayers and Caribbean nations.

Weigh the losers against the winners, and the conclusion is inescapable: Congress should make reform of the sugar program a top priority in a new farm bill.

The sugar program is a complex web of policies designed to prop up the domestic price of sugar and protect the U.S. sugar business from foreign competition, which is often also subsidized. The Department of Agriculture limits sugar imports, regulates the domestic marketing of sugar and provides loans to processors.

A handful of sugar processors and about 5,000 sugar cane and beet growers benefit by receiving artificially high prices for their products. But the costs are steep.

Read the full editorial here.

Sugar Subsidies Are A Bitter Pill For Consumers And Producers

The Washington Post
Letter to the Editor By: Mitchell Goetze, President and COO, Goetze’s Candy Company

As a fifth-generation owner of a Maryland candy company, I applaud the Dec. 8 front-page article “Lawmakers find protecting sugar easy to swallow.” In a time of budget constraints and sequestration, it is fiscal malpractice that the federal sugar subsidy program still exists. It hurts not only small businesses such as mine but all U.S. food processors, bakeries and consumers.

Read the full letter to the editor here.

Sugar – Congress’ Favorite Sweetener

Competitive Enterprise Institute’s OpenMarket
Blog Post By: Fran Smith, Board Member and Adjunct Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute

The sugar lobby’s sweet contributions and their day-in-day-out lobbying means broad bipartisan support for continuing the U.S. sugar program in the 2013 farm bill, as The Washington Post noted in a wide-ranging article December 7. Sugar policy, consisting of price supports, restraints on domestic supply, and import controls, benefits mainly a small number of rich sugar producers at the expense of consumers and taxpayers, according to the article.

Historically, the program has resulted in domestic sugar prices substantially higher than the world price. Besides those sweet deals, the government also buys back sugar producers’ surplus so they don’t have to pay back federal loans. Then the U.S. Department of Agriculture sells that sugar to ethanol producers at a loss.

Numerous attempts have been made to rein in this egregious program, but the sugar industry’s intense and consistent lobbying and the huge contributions they make on both sides of the aisle almost guarantee them the program’s continuation.

Read the full blog post here.

Sugar Protections Prove Easy to Swallow for Lawmakers Across Political Spectrum

Washington Post
By: Peter Wallsten and Tom Hamburger

Washington politicians facing a year-end deadline to cut billions in agriculture spending are feuding over the future of food aid for the poor and crop subsidies for farmers.

There is, however, one area of agreement in the contentious negotiations: sugar.

Lawmakers decided to preserve the decades-old government safety net that boosts profits for a relatively small group of growers and has cost consumers billions through artificially high prices.

The special protection is a testament to the enduring Washington clout of one of the country’s wealthiest farming interests, including the politically connected Florida family that controls a substantial share of the world’s sugar market.

Read the full article here.

Why Do We Treat Sugar Differently Than Oil?

Idaho Statesman
Column By: Ed Lotterman

… The argument that the nation is better off by increasing the price of gasoline never is a winner among the general public or, by extension, politicians. So why does no one complain when we do those very things for sugar?

The question is relevant because the U.S. Treasury is paying out about $53 million to compensate sugar companies, largely farmer-owned cooperatives, for selling sugar at a loss to ethanol plants to convert into fuel alcohol. That seems crazy. Yet neither voters nor taxpayers ever get upset about the situation.

Read the full column here.

Sugar’s (Too?) Sweet Political Deal

Washington Post – Post TV

Lawmakers can’t seem to agree on anything these days. Except … sugar? Here’s how a relatively small industry manages to win big in Washington.

Watch the video here.

More U.S. Sugar Defaults Ahead Unless Global Prices Rally – Jenkins

By: Chris Prentice

Global sugar prices must climb some 11 percent to deter exporters from shipping to the United States and leaving the U.S. market again overwhelmed with huge supplies in the 2013/14 crop year, according to the largest U.S. raw sugar broker.

World prices need to rise above 18.50 cents a lb to prevent another year of ballooning inventories and more sugar defaults from U.S. growers and processors, said Frank Jenkins, president of Jenkins Sugar Group in Wilton, Connecticut.

Last year, for the first time in a decade, sugar processors defaulted on government-backed loans which used sugar as collateral. As a result, they relinquished large tonnages of unwanted sweetener to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The default came as Mexican and U.S. production climbed, supplies ballooned, and prices tumbled.

Read the full article here.

Fixing the U.S. Sugar Program Today, not Tomorrow

National Foreign Trade Council
Blog Post By: Bill Reinsch, President of the NFTC

A recent editorial in The Washington Post calls on Congress to reform the U.S. sugar program, noting the nearly $300 million in taxpayer costs the program has racked up this year alone. The editorial also addresses the sugar lobby’s proposed “zero-for-zero” policy, which would press our trade partners to eliminate their sugar subsidies and then the United States would do so as well. I agree with what the Post’s editorial board had to say about the “zero-for-zero” proposal:

“… Politics 101 says that’s not going to happen soon, so demanding ‘zero-for-zero’ amounts to an excuse for perpetuating policies that benefit U.S. producers at the expense of food processors and consumers.”

The Post is correct. The sugar lobby has taken a step in the right direction – recognizing the need for reform to the U.S. sugar program – but this “zero-for-zero” proposal, while it seems logical, is not going to happen anytime soon.

Read the full blog post here.