Yesterday NPR’s All Things Considered took up the 2007 Farm Bill again and focused on the clout that sugar producers enjoy in both the House and the Senate. The recently passed House bill gives sugar cane and sugar beet producers all they wanted and more in the form of higher guaranteed prices for their sugar, more restrictions on imports, and new subsidies for sugar used for ethanol production. Now that August recess is over, the Senate will be crafting its version of the Farm Bill.
The NPR feature noted that even though sugar farmers represent only a small slice of the agriculture market, they are some of the largest political contributors. Their well-financed lobbying activities mean that day in and day out sugar lobbyists are visiting Hill staffers and making their case for keeping and expanding the U.S. sugar program, even though consumers and taxpayers are hit with the bill. That’s their lobbying focus.
On the other hand, their chief opponents — major companies that produce food and drink products using sugar — have a host of legislative and regulatory issues to address. Over the past several years, other organizations (like CEI) have become involved in opposing the sugar program — nonprofit policy groups, consumer and taxpayer groups, humanitarian and development organizations, and environmental groups. They point to the sugar program’s effects on food prices, the budget, the environment, and on people in developing countries who are efficient sugar producers but can’t compete with our government-subsidized sugar.
Here’s more about the sugar program from CEI.