What the Experts are Saying

Policymakers, consumer advocates, members of the media and others continue to amplify the collective voice in support of sugar reform. See below to learn more about what the experts are saying on this issue.

Policymakers

“Illinois’ status as the ‘Candy Capitol of the world’ is increasingly at risk because our current policy artificially inflates the price of sugar. Our bipartisan [sugar reform] amendment will benefit consumers, keep companies from
shipping jobs overseas and end the unfair pricing in the sugar industry.”

—U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL),
May 20, 2013

“Right now, American families are footing the bill for an outdated program that offers a sweet deal to a small group of sugar growers and processors. All the while, we’re losing manufacturing jobs all over the country as a result. [The Sugar Reform Act] will put money back in the wallets of American families and businesses.”

—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH),
May 20, 2013

“It’s time to roll back the government’s wasteful sugar program. This flawed policy is corporate welfare at its worst and hurts not only candy companies and food manufacturers, but also the families who end up paying higher costs for food made with sugar. [The Sugar Reform Act] would mark an important step towards ending policies that pay wealthy sugar processors from the pockets of American taxpayers.”

—U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA),
May 20, 2013

“Artificially inflated sugar prices created by the government’s failed sugar program result in increased operating costs for businesses and higher grocery bills for families. The American sugar program constitutes an almost unbelievable government intrusion into private business decisions and demands real reform. This command and control government mandate threatens the competitiveness of American food manufacturers, like McKee Foods in Stuarts Draft or Flowers Bakery in Lynchburg, and costs consumers and businesses an estimated $3.5 billion and 20,000 jobs each year.”

—U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA),
February 14, 2013

“Left unchanged, the current sugar program will continue to hurt American workers by driving good American manufacturing jobs to Canada, Mexico, and other foreign countries. Left unchanged, the current sugar program will continue to hurt American consumers by unnecessarily inflating the price of every product made with sugar. It is time to change this anachronistic program.”

—U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL),
February 14, 2013

“It’s time for the government to reform the protectionist policies that are hurting American workers and consumers. At its heart, our bipartisan bill is about protecting American jobs.”

—U.S. Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA),
February 14, 2013

“We need more commonsense solutions that make government smarter, more efficient, and simpler. The wasteful and inefficient sugar program is something that many of us have been fighting for decades, and it’s finally getting the attention that it deserves.”

—U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR),
February 14, 2013

“I am proud to be a cosponsor of the newly reintroduced Sugar Reform Act that would repeal subsidies for the sugar industry that keep prices artificially high, stifle small businesses, and hurt consumers. A number of companies in my district who employ hundreds of people are negatively impacted by the artificially high prices which benefit the sugar growers at the expense of manufactures. We need to end this unfair advantage for growers.”

—U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA),
February 14, 2013

Learn more about what policymakers are saying here.

Consumer Advocates

“Recent studies show that the annual cost of the sugar program to consumers is up to $3.5 billion, paid in the form of higher grocery bills … . Due to the nature of these costs and the fact that lower-income consumers spend a higher percentage of their income on food, the sugar program effectively creates a regressive and hidden tax. When working families are doing all they can to make ends meet and put food on the table, this is a tax they can ill afford.”

—Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America and National Consumers League, September 3, 2013

“Analysts estimate that U.S. consumers and businesses pay anywhere from $3.5 to $4.5 billion in higher costs due to the government’s inflation of sugar prices. Taxpayers too, shoulder the burden of the government’s intrusion in the sugar market. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the surplus sugar the government buys and sells, at a loss, to ethanol producers, will cost taxpayers $374 million over the next decade.”

 Americans for Tax Reform
August 13, 2012

“The current sugar program is nothing more than a hidden tax on American consumers.  The special interest sugar program imposes additional unnecessary food costs on every American family and is also responsible for the loss of U.S. food manufacturing jobs. … In no other program does the federal government take so much from so many to give to a few. Each month, millions of Americans go to their neighborhood grocery stores to do their food shopping, and unbeknownst to them, the sugar in the bakery products, cereals, ice cream, and the many other food products they buy is subject to a cost that is generally 30 to 40 percent higher than the world cost, courtesy of the U.S. Congress and the sugar program.”

 National Consumers League
July 6, 2012

“For too long, consumers have been stuck with the tab for a sugar program designed to inflate the domestic price of sugar. Since passage of the 2008 farm bill, refined and retail sugar prices have been at all-time record highs…[S]ugar reform…will provide much needed economic relief to many households.”

Consumer Federation of America 
June 12, 2012

“Despite claiming to reform agriculture, many of the most costly programs lack reform or are simply made worse. Antiquated and convoluted sugar programs, which collectively cost consumers $3.5 billion per year in higher food prices, are left untouched.”

—Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform,
In Letter to U.S. Senate, June 4, 2012

“This is a subsidy … and one that is coming out of consumers’ and taxpayers’ pockets. …Sugar is in a lot of items — candy, bread, cereal, pasta sauce — so it’s represented in every dollar that consumers spend, and the consumer ends up paying as a result.”

—Sally Greenberg, President, National Consumers League,
At a Congressional Sugar Reform Caucus
staff briefing, February 22, 2012

Learn more about what consumer advocates are saying here.

Small Businesses

 “Sugar reform … will help us to be more competitive, which means we can create more jobs in our factories in the United States, offer better product to our American consumers and help us all to grow our businesses.”

–Kevin Silva, The Warrell Corporation
Camp Hill, PA  

“It’s such an outdated program. It’s just not needed anymore. … [A] level playing field will help all parties involved and just make doing business so much simpler.”

–Rick Blommer, Blommer Chocolate Company
Chicago, IL

“ … [W]hen there is a pretty significant [cost] increase … to that one ingredient we find that it impacts our costs and our margins significantly … [and] we end up not being able to compete with a lot of these companies that don’t have these increases.”

–Jeanne Thompson, Seattle Chocolate Company
Seattle, WA

“… [T]he sugar program is antiquated. It is a program that’s probably now 60 years old. It’s costing American consumers. … [To] be competitive and make America great again, we need to have reform in our farm bill that allows both sides to reach a balance.”

–Joseph Dutra, Kimmie Candy Company
Reno, NV

“It’s very important that we look at rolling this program back to 2002, create stability and allow companies, private companies like ourselves, the ability to stay in the United States and manufacture and employ U.S. workers.”

–Mitchell Goetze, Goetze’s Candy Company
Baltimore, MD

“The cost of supporting Federal mandates to keep the artificially high domestic sugar market price is borne by American consumers in every product purchased containing refined sugar.”

—Nicholas Pyle, Independent Bakers Association
Washington, DC

“There is an advantage for foreign chocolate companies who have access to the world pricing of sugar which is about $0.20 lb and in the USA due to the government subsidy on U.S. sugar and import quotas is $0.49 lb to domestic users.”

—Kelli Post, Kimmie Candy Company
Reno, NV

“The unfair competition we face in the sugar industry needs to stop.  We need sugar reform now.  The intrusion of foreign competition into our lives makes our lives more difficult.  We need to reform the sugar program.”

Taz Murray, Maxfield’s Candy Company and Kencraft, Inc.
Salt Lake City, UT

“It’s an unfair playing field.  Our sugar price is significantly higher.  We try and deliver a quality product at a reasonable price to our consumer, and, increasingly, it becomes harder and harder.”

Richard Kay, Sweet Candy Company
Salt Lake City, UT

“It’s very important to stay competitive, and it’s very difficult when we have to pay higher prices than the world is paying. … We’re tired of paying 50 percent more for our sugar prices.  We need to get [the sugar program] eliminated and solved.”

David Glade, Taffy Town, Inc.
Salt Lake City, UT

“[I] really do think it’s time to revisit [the U.S. sugar program], because for every job in the sugar growing and refining industry that is being saved somehow through this program, many of my peers are moving their candy and bakery operations out of the country to save the money on sugar. … [T]here’s far more jobs being lost in this industry right now than what are being saved through this current U.S. sugar policy.  And I really think it’s something that should be looked at in the current farm bill.”

Larry Johns, McJak Candy Company
Medina, OH

“For our company, [the cost of sugar is] between $15 and $20,000 a day that we don’t have in extra income.  And this is money that we could be using to hire workers, to invest in additional equipment right here in the United States.  That extra money is really going to the sugar industry, unfortunately, and American consumers are paying for that at the expense of our workers here in Bryan, Ohio.”

Kirk Vashaw, Spangler Candy Company
Bryan, OH

“The additional cost of sugar for us has a huge impact from the standpoint of being able to reinvest in our business as well as to compete with anyone who’s distributing products from any other countries, including Canada and Mexico, directly with the United States.  We’d like to be able to buy sugar for what the rest of the world is able to buy sugar. … We’d like to be able to compete on a fair playing ground, just like we have to everyday against our competitors.”

Eddie Opler, World’s Finest Chocolate
Chicago, IL

“One of our major competitors happens to make all their candies in Mexico, and [they] get to buy sugar for half the price that I have to pay for it, and then they ship it right back into the United States duty free. It’s just time, we have to eliminate and reform the sugar subsidies in the United States.  It hurts our business; it makes it more difficult to compete with confectioners coming into the United States that are duty free; and our own government is causing us not to be competitive.”

Gregg Claeys, Claeys Candy, Inc.
South Bend, IN

“[W]e are, as now, the only gumball company remaining in the United States, because our biggest obstacle to growing is the fact that we have to pay so much more for sugar than our competitors who are stationed right across the border in Canada.  How do you compete when your most abundant product is 46 percent more in cost?  It’s no wonder our competitors have gone to Canada.”

George Stege, Ford Gum & Machine Company, Inc.
Lincolnshire, IL

“Since 2006, we’ve added over 500 jobs at our New Jersey manufacturing facilities in Somerset. That’s the good news. The bad news is we’ve added another 500 jobs, but those jobs are at our manufacturing facilities in Spain, because we simply cannot afford U.S. sugar prices. We terribly need your help in Washington, DC, to reform the sugar program to increase domestic production and output to help us create more jobs in the United States. The jobs are available, if not for the sugar program.”

Michael Rosenberg, Promotion In Motion Companies, Inc.
Allendale, NJ

“[T]he most serious issue to me is the price of sugar. … Sugar is a tightly controlled government commodity. If we want to create jobs in the United States, we need to have sugar freed up.  We need a free economy with sugar. … We need to stop sugar subsidies, because it is anti-free market.  And the United States is all about free markets.”

Pierson Clair, Brown & Haley Company
Tacoma, WA

“It would be nice if we could have an even and fair playing field. Unfair, offshore price competition is killing [the sugar] industry. And anybody, like us, that makes candy with a high sugar content is affected radically. … [At] some point, the buyer says, ‘I don’t care how good your quality is, I don’t care where it’s made, it’s just too expensive relative to what I can buy from other countries.’”

Eric Atkinson, Atkinson Candy Company
Lufkin, TX

“Sugar is one of our primary ingredients, as we manufacture candy. We use a lot of sugar every year, several tons, and it is very, very important that the price be manageable. In the past several years, [sugar] has more than quadrupled in price, and we find it hard to have to pass this on to our customers. It’s getting harder and harder for people to afford the simple pleasures, and, of course, candy is one of them.”

Susan Karl, Annabelle Candy Company, Inc.
Hayward, CA

“Sugar policy is destructive. It is one that empowers foreign competition at the expense of U.S. manufacturers. We have a factory in Mexico, because we are obligated to recognize the practical realities of where our costs come from. And if we want to make candy and use sugar, we have an unignorable economic incentive to manufacture that product outside of the U.S. … It’s time to change [the U.S. sugar] program.”

John Brooks, Jr., Adams & Brooks, Inc.
Los Angeles, CA

Learn more about what small business owners are saying here.

Members of the Media

“Without the Army Corps of Engineers’ dredging and building, the cane growers wouldn’t have the soil or the irrigation they need. Without Washington’s decades of rigging the labor market, the companies wouldn’t have had the workers they needed before mechanization. Now the industry says it deserves to be protected from foreign competition. … Florida sugar cane is an industry literally built on big government.”

—“Sugar Industry Would Wither Without Big Government,”
Opinion Column by Timothy Carney,
Washington Examiner, February 3, 2013

“The sugar program distorts the market and, food and beverage makers contend, unnaturally props up the price of a key ingredient. Naturally, the sugar industry disputes that assertion but Democratic and Republican senators who oppose the program make a compelling case that it costs consumers at least $3.5 billion annually in food costs. Only a decade ago, the Government Accounting Office estimated the cost to consumers at $1.9 billion a year.”

—“Sugar Industry’s Sweet Deal”
Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial, June 25, 2012

“The sugar industry welfare arrangement, which was introduced in 1934, includes price supports and import restrictions. It’s done its job — the industry is on sound footing — and it should make no sense at a time when some government coddling of other established industries is drawing to a close.”

—“Senator Jeanne Shaheen Tried to End
Corporate Welfare for the Sugar-Growers”
Sentinel Source editorial, June 25, 2012

“As it does roughly every five years, Congress is weighing a new farm bill. This time, however, the measure could essentially end the loathsome direct-payment system that has wasted so many taxpayer dollars. … Discouragingly, the Senate has already defeated one smart, money- saving amendment. It left costly sugar subsidies in place, ensuring continued inflated prices for American consumers. The country cannot afford these kinds of giveaways. If allowed to stand, the sugar program bodes ill for the kind of broader fiscal discipline that the economy desperately needs.”

—“Reshaping the Farm Bill,”
The Providence Journal editorial, June 25, 2012

“Subsidies to other farmers, such as corn growers in Wisconsin, are being reduced in the sweeping farm bill to save money during tight times. Congress finally appears willing to end direct payments, for example. Those are the checks sent to landowners regardless of need, high prices for crops or whether the recipients are even farmers. Sugar doesn’t deserve special protections. … Domestic sugar producers deserve a fair — but not inflated — price for their product.”

—“Stop Giving Sweetener to Big Sugar,”
Wisconsin State Journal editorial, June 21, 2012

“… [T]he sugar lobby … last week narrowly defeated a bipartisan attempt at reforming its egregious quota program that gouges American consumers to benefit a mere 5,000 or so farmers. The Senate voted 50-46 to table Senator Pat Toomey’s reform bill, but the reform would have passed if not for the votes of 16 GOP Senators.”

—“A Tale of Two Conservatives”
Wall Street Journal editorial, June 18, 2012

“Though the sugar industry is surely not the biggest recipient of federal subsidies, the federal supports put into place decades ago benefit a relatively small number of sugar producers — mostly large operations — while hurting consumers and thousands of commercial users of sugar.”

—“Artificial Sweetener”
Columbus Dispatch editorial, June 13, 2012

“[The sugar program] is a conveniently hidden tax and a regressive one too. When Big Sugar says the program imposes “no net cost” on the budget, they’re not talking about the family budget. Americans pay about 50% more than the world price of sugar.”

—“A Sugar Showdown”
Wall Street Journal editorial, June 13, 2012

“An Iowa State University study has found that the federal sugar program costs U.S. consumers roughly $3.5 billion a year and deprives the workforce of 20,000 jobs. This New Deal-era framework of barriers on sugar imports and of price supports for domestic sugar is a racket that benefits only a few…”

—“It’s Time To End The Job-Killing U.S. Sugar Policy”
Investor’s Business Daily editorial, May 23, 2012

“This government meddling in the free market, unlike subsidies, doesn’t impose a cost on taxpayers directly, but it forces U.S. consumers and food makers to pay much more for sugar. Studies have shown the sugar program is a net negative for the U.S. economy, but the industry has invested heavily in lobbying and political campaigns to hold on to its sweet deal.”

—”Congress Should Plow Under Farm Subsidies”
Orlando Sentinel editorial, May 10, 2012

“And the next farm bill will almost certainly include a bid to renew the government’s sugar program. As apologists for the program will tell you, it doesn’t include any direct subsidies for U.S. growers. However, its price supports, production controls and import quotas keep sugar more expensive in the United State than in the rest of the world.”

—“Is Another Sugar Shakedown Coming?”
Orlando Sentinel editorial, April 20, 2012

“The end of government’s sugar-market interventions – sweet for fewer than 5,000 domestic producers, sour for consumers, food makers and their more than 600,000 workers, including nearly 42,000 in Pennsylvania — is long overdue. The Coalition for Sugar Reform (sugarreform.org) outlines how government distorts sugar supply and demand, costing consumers and businesses an additional $3.5 billion annually. … The coalition sees this year’s farm bill as a chance to stop this economic madness. Congress should do what’s best for the overall economy and heed that call.”

—“Sugar, Sugar: Not So Sweet,”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial, April 17, 2012

“The last time Congress revisited sugar, in the 2008 farm bill, it made the program even less responsive to the marketplace. As a result, U.S. food-makers not only pay an inflated price for sugar, they can’t always get enough of it to keep their factories reliably supplied. No wonder Canada, for one, has experienced a boon as bakery, candy, frozen-food, breakfast-cereal and other food companies search outside the U.S. for this basic ingredient.”

—“No Sugarcoating This Giveaway,”
Chicago Tribune editorial, April 12, 2012

“Sugar import quotas confer substantial wealth on a small cohort of producers already wealthy enough to work the political levers of redistributive government. The increased cost of sugar substantially penalizes consumers as a group but not so noticeably that individuals protest.”

—“Government: The Redistributionist Behemoth,”
Opinion Column by George Will,
The Washington Post, January 6, 2012

“A Commerce Department report says that for each sugar-growing or sugar-harvesting job saved through the program, nearly three manufacturing jobs are lost. In a five-year period beginning in 1997, more than 10,000 jobs were lost in the sugar-containing-product industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Consumers aren’t the only ones getting smacked by the program. American workers also pay a steep cost so Big Sugar can keep living the sweet life. Companies that use sugar in their products, from Kraft to Hershey to Brach’s, have closed facilities in the U.S. and moved them out of the country, typically to Canada and Mexico, where they can buy sugar much cheaper.”

—“Close the Candy Store,”
Investor’s Business Daily editorial, April 12, 2011 

“The federal government, in one of its least defensible corporate welfare boondoggles, limits the amount of foreign sugar that can enter the country. The result: a U.S. price for sugar that is often double or triple the world price.

“The sugar program also includes non-recourse loans to sugar growers, with sugar as collateral—meaning if the price of sugar drops too low, sugar growers simply sacrifice their sugar to the federal government, and default on their loans. Florida’s biggest sugar growers are very politically connected, and that’s the only reason this program exists.”

—“Richard Lugar Takes On Big Sugar”
Opinion Column by Timothy Carney,
Washington Examiner, March 22, 2011

“Congress and the Obama administration are in the market for fresh ideas to create jobs. Or so we are told. So far, however, we haven’t seen too many specifics—but that may be about to change. Two senators, one from each party, have introduced legislation that would phase out the costly, job-destroying federal sugar program. Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois call their bill the Stop Unfair Giveaways and Restrictions (SUGAR) Act. Despite the cutesy title, it’s a seriously necessary proposal.”

—“Break the Sugar Addiction,”
The Washington Post editorial, January 30, 2011

“The government’s relationship with sugar producers and processors began in the early 1800s, when high tariffs were imposed on sugar imports to bolster the value of local sugar plantations. Today, cheaper foreign sugar makes up only 15 percent of sugar sold on the U.S. market due to protectionist policies, while the remaining 85 percent of sugar produced domestically enjoys guaranteed pricing due to production quotas. The result is a cost of sugar in the United States nearly twice the world market price. American prices have been higher than world prices for the last 44 out of 45 years.”

—“The Great American Sugar Divide,”
The Epoch Times, April 4, 2011

“There’s no way to sugarcoat this: Small bakers and confectioners are hurt most by the current U.S. sugar program by denying them access to the competitive world sugar market, while those of us who like candy (a lot) pay an increased cost because of artificially inflated sugar prices.”

—“Sweet and Sour,”
Lakeview News-Sun editorial, June 10, 2011

 

Think Tanks

 

“Government interference in the sugar market hurts consumers and food manufacturers by driving up the price of sugar, reducing export opportunities by giving other countries an excuse to impose similar penalties on U.S.-made products, and weakening the U.S. economy. This Depression-era program, which was supposed to end in 1940, should be abolished.”

—Bryan Riley, Jay Van Andel Senior Policy Analyst, The Heritage Foundation, “Abolish the Costly Sugar Program to Lower Sugar Prices,blog post, December 5, 2012

“Food manufacturers that use a lot of sugar are at a competitive disadvantage in the United States because federal import barriers on sugar substantially push up prices for that production input.”

—Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies, CATO Institute
“Hostess Bankruptcy: What Role Did Policy Play?,” blog post
November 16, 2012

“Last month, Americans paid 49 percent more for raw sugar than if they were allowed to freely import it. Clearly the sugar program is not a ‘no-cost’ policy, as sugar producers assert, since it increases prices for everyone who buys sugar or products that contain sugar.”

—Bryan Riley, Jay Van Andel Senior Policy Analyst, The Heritage Foundation
“End the U.S. Sugar Program,” blog post
June 6, 2012

“Under this central planning scheme, the federal government restricts the sugar supply, fixes the domestic price at high levels and keeps out competition. Despite record world prices for sugar, the program continues to impose unnecessary price supports, strict production and marketing controls and outdated import quotas. The program is counterproductive, antithetical to a free market economy and has long outlived its usefulness.”

—Fran Smith, Board Member and Adjunct Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
“Sugar Program Isn’t Sweet for Consumers or the Economy,” op-ed in The Daily Caller
April 19, 2012

“Government interference in the sugar market hurts consumers and food manufacturers by driving up the price of sugar, threatening competitive farmers and ranchers by jeopardizing export growth, and weakening the U.S. economy by diverting resources from more competitive uses. This Depression-era program, which was supposed to end in 1940, has outlived its intended lifespan by 72 years. It should be abolished.”

—Bryan Riley, Jay Van Andel Senior Policy Analyst, The Heritage Foundation
“The U.S. Sugar Program: Bad for Consumers, Bad for Agriculture, and Bad for America,” policy brief
April 18, 2012

“The sugar program is a central planning system that makes consumers pay more for many foods and beverages, means real jobs lost in sugar-using companies, and shuts developing countries out of important markets.”

—Christine Hall, Competitive Enterprise Institute
March 30, 2011 

“The federal government has been meddling with sugar production since 1934. Today’s convoluted system of supply controls, price supports, and trade restrictions benefits domestic sugar producers at the expense of consumers and utilizing industries. In other words, sugar producers “win” and the rest of the country ‘loses.’… The federal government engages in a lot of activities that are difficult to defend. But when it comes to sugar, the government’s protections are clearly indefensible.”

—Tad DeHaven, Budget Analyst, CATO Institute
Lugar Targets Federal Sugar Racket, blog post
March 30, 2011

“The sugar program diverts billions of dollars from American consumers to the “Big Sugar” cartel and would understandably make sense to the members of the American Sugar Alliance. But that very costly program certainly doesn’t make any sense at all for the millions of American consumers and thousands of U.S. businesses who were burdened last year alone with $4.5 billion in higher sugar costs.”

— Mark Perry, Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
“Sugar Policy: Sweet Deal for Producers Sour for Consumers,” blog post
January 24, 2011