For too long the sugar lobby has protected sugar subsidies by running a campaign of distortion based on misleading claims. Contrary to the lobbyists’ propaganda, the wasteful U.S. sugar program costs American consumers and businesses $3.5 billion each year and puts in jeopardy about 600,000 jobs in sugar-using industries.
The sugar program may be a sweet deal for wealthy sugar companies, but not for American consumers and businesses.
The following are are the top five myths about the sugar program. Unwrap the facts for yourself below.
1. MYTH: The sugar program helps sustain 142,000 American jobs and reform efforts threaten those jobs.
FACT: The International Trade Commission stated in August 2011 that there are only 18,000 jobs in sugar crop farming and processing in the entire United States, a number that is grounded in U.S. Census data. That’s not very close to 142,000. By contrast, Census data show approximately 600,000 jobs in those segments of the food industry that purchase sugar. For an Agralytica white paper debunking the 142,000 jobs myth, please click here. The argument that every U.S. sugar grower and every U.S. sugar processor would go out of business is built on a false premise and is certainly not going to happen. The legislation that has been introduced is about reform. The sugar program will stay in place, and growing and processing jobs will not suffer. In fact, they will probably grow. The legislation would reform the sugar program in a manner that will make U.S. manufacturers more competitive and lower prices for consumers. This is pro-job reform. It’s also important to remember that high sugar prices not only hurt consumers, they have already cost the United States jobs. An estimated 127,000 jobs were lost in sugar-using industries between 1997 and 2011. With almost 600,000 Americans working in sugar-using industries, it’s imperative that U.S. sugar policy is reformed to prevent further losses. The U.S. Department of Commerce also estimates that for every sugar-growing job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, approximately three American manufacturing jobs are lost.
2. MYTH: The European Union “reformed” its sugar policy and now faces a dire shortage of sugar and high prices, so we shouldn’t repeat their mistakes in reforming U.S. sugar policy.
FACT: It’s fair to say that the global recession had more to do with European job losses than any changes in EU sugar policy. However, the bottom line is that after the so-called EU reform, the EU still restricts its imports to certain countries. Unlike the EU reform, which left in place import and domestic production quotas, the legislation that has been introduced is moderate policy reform. The legislation would repeal new, additional import restrictions that were put in the 2008 farm bill and make modest reforms to sugar program administration that are necessary to ensure the program works for sugar producers, sugar-using businesses and consumers alike.
3. MYTH: The sugar program operates at “no cost” to consumers and taxpayers and has since 2002.
FACT: By starting with 2002, the sugar lobby conveniently fails to reveal that taxpayers spent $500 million on surplus sugar in 2000. What’s more, the sugar program drives up U.S. refined sugar prices – which have ranged from 64 to 92 percent higher than on the world market in the past four calendar years. Due to higher prices, over the past four years alone, the sugar program has imposed a $14 billion hidden food tax on American consumers and businesses in order to provide a special interest subsidy to sugar producers. As soon as late summer, there could be sugar loan forfeitures, which would cost taxpayers upwards of $80 million, and the Congressional Budget Office is currently projecting the sugar program to cost taxpayers $239 million over the next several years.
4. MYTH: Sugar reform will only help big candy companies.
FACT: Sugar is used in a wide range of food products – breads, pasta sauce, peanut butter, frozen vegetables, canned fruit and many more. This is not just a candy issue, nor is it just a big company issue. In fact, smaller businesses are hurt most by sugar policy. They normally pay higher prices than do volume buyers; they are last in line to be served when supplies are tight; and they frequently do not have the sophisticated hedging capabilities of large companies, and so are more vulnerable to government-induced price spikes.
5. MYTH: U.S. sugar prices have dropped nearly 50 percent since last year. Reform is not needed because the market is working.
To unwrap additional facts about the sugar program, click here.
Following are recent e-newsletters that will help you unwrap the facts about the U.S. sugar program and the need for reform. Click on the links to download and print a PDF version of each e-newsletter.
- Sugar Lobby Should Stop Blaming Other Countries for Protectionist U.S. Subsidies
- Surplus of U.S. and Mexican Sugar Is a Direct Result of America’s Broken Sugar Policy
- Sugar-Using Companies Are “Thriving” Under Current Sugar Policy? Think Again.
- Sugar Reform: A “Big Candy” Issue? Check Your Grocery List.
- Don’t Be Fooled by the Sugar Lobby’s Absurd Claims
- Sugar Lobby: So Many Ads, So Few Facts
- Sugar Lobby and Its Allies Continue to Distort the Facts
- Current Sugar Program Helps Our Global Competitors, While American Consumers and Businesses Pay the Price
- Sugar Lobby Continues to Mislead with EU Comparisons
- U.S. Sugar Program Creates Instability, Could Leave Consumers Paying Millions More if Reforms Are Not Enacted
- The Sugar Program Is Working? Working for Whom?
- Sugar Reform Will Benefit All American Consumers and Businesses That Use Sugar
- Sugar Subsidies Artificially Inflate U.S. Sugar Prices, Impose Costly Hidden Tax on Consumers and Businesses
- Before Pointing the Finger at Other Sugar-Producing Countries, Let’s Reform Our Own Market-Distorting Policies
- Sugar Reform Means Independence from Costly Restrictions, Not Dependence on Sugar Imports
- Sugar Lobby’s Fuzzy Math on Jobs Numbers
- With Misleading ‘Surplus’ and Price Claims, Sugar Lobby Stays True to Its Campaign of Distortion
- The Farm Bill, as Drafted, Does Not Help Small Businesses That Use Sugar
- A ‘No Cost’ Program?: Not So Fast, Sugar Lobby
- ‘Unwrap the Facts’ Takes On Sugar Lobby’s Campaign of Distortion
- Big Sugar Is at It Again – Distorting the Facts to Protect Subsidies
- EU and U.S. Sugar Reform Efforts Do Not Compare
- Sugar Lobby Continues Campaign of Distortion, Misrepresenting the Facts
- Sugar Reform Will NOT Make America Reliant on Foreign Imports or Jeopardize the Domestic Sugar Industry
- U.S. Sugar Lobby Continues to Distort the Findings of a Department of Commerce Study
- The U.S. Sugar Program Needs Reform Now
- U.S. Sugar Prices Have Increased Significantly Since 2008, Despite Sugar Lobby’s False Claims
- U.S. Sugar is NOT ‘More Affordable than World Average’