Sugar lobby sweetens pols’ pot

Terrific front-page article on the influence of the sugar lobby in the Washington Post on Saturday by Dan Morgan recounting how the sugar industry’s clout extends even to legislators located in Manhattan.

Morgan notes that when the House of Representatives was considering an amendment cutting back on the sugar program, the sugar industry received support in defeating it soundly from legislators far from the farms.

The House sugar vote illustrates the hold that agricultural interests maintain on farm policy even as the number of full-time commercial farmers has shrunk to a few hundred thousand. Sugar groups have used campaign cash and far-reaching alliances with labor unions and politicians to expand their influence far beyond the 15 states and few dozen congressional districts where sugar is grown by fewer than 6,000 farmers.

The article also points out how the sugar program affects consumers and taxpayers, a point CEI has been emphasizing, the latest in this video:

The expected effect of the House pro-sugar provisions and similar legislation in the Senate would be to keep the domestic price of sugar well above world levels. The Government Accountability Office has estimated that the sugar program costs consumers and food processors between $1 billion and $2 billion annually in higher prices for sugar and a vast array of products that contain it. Meanwhile, the new sugar subsidy would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year, according to economists and U.S. officials.