Sugar producers got a sweet deal in the 2008 Farm Bill. Now, with the next bill scheduled for 2012, some opponents of the U.S. sugar program are already positioning themselves for another battle over one of the most egregious examples of central planning that raises prices for consumers and costs jobs.
On September 29, 2010, Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16) introduced a bill — The Free Market Sugar Act — that takes direct aim at the sugar program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Here’s Pitts’ statement:
The USDA sugar program is a needless waste of government money that is actually counterproductive to the goal of creating jobs in the U.S. Using taxpayer money to back loans to the sugar industry and buy sugar should not be a function of our federal government. Since the program actually raises the U.S. price for sugar, we see some food industry jobs shipped overseas.
Sugar producers are using the public backing to pocket healthy profits. The American people are fed up with bailouts, and my legislation would stop public money from propping up companies that should be providing for themselves.
Other policy makers were taking their own steps to focus attention on sugar and the next farm bill. Congressmen Danny Davis (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to their fellow members of Congress asking them to sign on to a letter to the House Agriculture Committee leadership. The letter points out some of the major problems with the program that need to be corrected in the 2012 farm bill:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is keeping sugar prices at all-time highs by limiting the amount of sugar that can be grown in the United States and imported each year to meet domestic needs. The sugar program is being run solely for the benefit of sugar growers and processors, with complete disregard for consumers and other sugar users. The net result is that consumers are paying more for food products and workers are losing jobs at food processing and manufacturing plants.
It’s good that they’re starting early to position this issue, because they will be facing the sugar lobby, one of the strongest lobbies on the Hill — that day-in-an-day-out focuses on this one issue and spreads their largesse in a bipartisan manner.