Trade Agreement Could Sweeten Life for Candy Makers

Wall Street Journal
By: Alexandra Wexler

U.S. candy makers are hoping that trade partnerships can get them what the farm bill could not—access to more sugar from the global market.

U.S. sugar users, including bakers and candy companies, have been fighting to overhaul the federal price-support program for the sweetener for decades.

Last month, they lost their latest battle when the farm bill–where agricultural policy is set for the next five years–was signed into law with no changes to U.S. sugar policy. So for now, the price supports and the import restrictions that force U.S. companies to pay more for sugar than many of their international rivals remain in place. But candy makers aren’t waiting another half decade to tackle the program again.

“There are other ways that we can impact gaining additional access to sugar,” said Liz Clark, vice president of government affairs at the National Confectioners Association, an industry group, on the sidelines of a conference in Miami. “We have some opportunities in the trade sphere now.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pending trade pact that would include the U.S., Japan, Australia and nine other countries, is the candy group’s next target as a vehicle for sugar reform.

Read the full article here.

Sweetener Users Welcome USDA Under Secretary’s Remarks on Sugar Policy, TPP; Continue to Call for Policy Reform

International Dairy Foods Association
Press Release

The prospects for U.S. sugar policy and opportunities offered by the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership were just a few of the topics covered this week at the 2014 International Sweetener Colloquium at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, Calif. The event drew 450 industry professionals from the United States, Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Germany and Turkey, maintaining the high level of attendance reached in recent years.

Hosted by IDFA and the Sweetener Users Association (SUA), the colloquium addressed the sweetener industry’s latest challenges, obstacles and opportunities with presentations from a wide range of speakers. Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president, serves as SUA treasurer, a position he has held for the past six years.

Read the full press release here.

Farm Bill Leaves A Sour Taste

Chicago Tribune
Column By: Steve Chapman

The name “Chicago,” according to local lore, came from an Indian word meaning “stinky onion.” But for decades the city had a different aroma, wafting from an array of candy factories. It was a sweet bonus of urban life. Because of a little-known government program, though, it has largely faded away.

In 1990, Brach’s Confections Inc. threatened to close a West Side factory that employed 1,100 people. The candy-maker said it would move to Mexico or Canada unless the federal government acted to reduce the artificially inflated cost of sugar. Washington ignored the threat, and Brach’s found ways to keep the plant going. But in 2003, it closed the factory and sent much of the work to Mexico.

The reason for the move was a federal undertaking whose entire purpose is to prop up the price of sugar for the benefit of a small number of growers. It does so by restricting imports, limiting how much farmers can plant and guaranteeing them a certain price. These methods work: The price of sugar in this country is usually double or triple the price in the rest of the world.

Read the full column here.

Mark Kirk, Danny Davis Say Federal Support for Sugar Farmers Could Cost Jobs

Associated Press

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and Democratic congressman Danny Davis say they want an end to federal government price protections for sugar farmers.

The Farm Bill that passed this month leaves intact the government’s depression-era program, which supports prices and protects growers from foreign competition.

Candy makers and other food and beverage companies long have said the protections artificially restrict supplies, force consumers to pay more and only benefit a few thousand well-off growers.

Read the full article here.

More Candy For The Sugar Industry In Recently Approved Farm Bill

Sacramento Bee
Column By: Bruce Maiman

It’s not a sexy issue. Indeed, with last week’s passage of the farm bill, little can be done about it now, but the inequity, audacity and hypocrisy associated with the politics of sugar cry out for comment.

The U.S. sugar program is a collection of import restrictions, price floors and taxpayer-backed loans designed to prop up some 4,500 domestic sugar growers while costing everyone else billions in higher prices, lost jobs and preposterous bailouts.

“It’s the most constrained and lucrative subsidy in the entire farm bill,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, told me.

Read the full column here.

Statement By Senator John McCain On Farm Bill Conference Report

Office of Senator John McCain

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today delivered the following statement on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding opposing passage of the Farm Bill conference agreement.

“… Over the past year, sugar subsides and forfeitures have cost taxpayers $258 million while over 640,000 tons of sugar was handed over to USDA. Combined with import tariffs and marketing controls, the USDA sugar program cost consumers over $3 billion each year. It is one of the most obscene federal farm subsidies ever conceived and this Farm Bill does nothing to reform it.”

Read the full floor statement here.

Sugar Giveaways Enrich Politicians, Cost You Plenty

Orlando Sentinel
Column By: Scott Maxwell

In Washington these days, consensus is about as rare as a third eye … on a unicorn.

Truly, you’d have trouble getting Democrats and Republicans to agree the sky is blue unless there was a campaign check in it for them.

Yet both parties united in 2013 for one of America’s time-honored political traditions: propping up the sugar industry with tax dollars, price supports, trade restrictions and government loans.

If that sounds like the kind of thing you couldn’t care less about, consider this:

It costs you plenty.

It leads to higher grocery bills — every time you buy anything from a candy bar to a box of cereal.

It costs you tax dollars — about $280 million last year alone.

And you pay for it with your natural resources, because the handouts prop up an industry that basically uses the lower half of Florida like a toilet bowl. Then we spend billions more to clean it up.

Read the full column here.

Lobbying: A Terrific Investment

RealClearPolicy
Op-ed By: Rich Tucker, Senior Writer, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, Heritage Foundation

These are glory days for investors. Last month the Dow Jones Industrial Average touched 16,000. It’s more than doubled since its low point in early 2009. Overall stocks are up more than 20 percent in 2013.

Sounds great. But if you put your money in a mutual fund or an IRA hoping to ride the gravy train, you missed the biggest and best investment opportunity in history. The real place to park your money is in Washington, D.C. That’s because the way to get ahead isn’t to work hard or make things; it’s to lobby Washington for special privileges.

Look no further than the sweet deal the sugar industry gets. It’s spent about $50 million on federal campaign donations over the last five years. So that would average out to $10 million per year. Last year alone, the federal government spent $278 million on direct expenditures to sugar companies. That’s a great return on investment.

Read the full op-ed here.

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.