The Environmental Costs of the U.S. Sugar Program

As a recent piece by Florida columnist Eve Samples asserts, the costs of the U.S. sugar program are not just economic, they’re environmental. Samples wrote:

“Call it a subsidy or call it a price support. Ultimately, the effect on everyday people is the same: We pay more.

“… Take it from the Coalition for Sugar Reform, a group that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the libertarian-leaning Club for Growth and
beverage and candy-makers.

“Put in place to support American sugar farmers by keeping their prices artificially high, the U.S. sugar program has proven counterproductive in today’s global economy,” the Coalition for Sugar reform stated in a news release in August.

“The coalition estimates sugar price supports and production quotas cost consumers $3.5 billion a year.

“Why does sugar policy matter for the St. Lucie River?

“Inflated sugar prices prop up the value of land south of Lake Okeechobee — land essential to restoring the southward flow of water to the Everglades.

“… [A]lmost 600 million gallons of water per day were pouring out of the St. Lucie Lock & Dam — much of it from Lake Okeechobee, and some of it from local rain runoff. The freshwater deluge has offset the balance of saltwater in the St. Lucie River estuary, and the fertilizer runoff it carries is suffocating to river life.”

To read the full column, click here.

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