Another Sweet Deal for “Big Sugar” in Senate Vote

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 22, 2013 — In a loss for consumers and taxpayers, Congress once again voted to continue the outdated, wasteful sugar program. The Senate voted 54-45 against a bipartisan amendment to the farm bill, cosponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and others that would have instituted much-needed reforms of the program. The amendment specifically addressed some add-ons in the 2008 farm bill that made the program even worse by further restrictions on imports, higher price supports and a costly sugar-to-ethanol program.

“We are extremely disappointed the Senate voted down Senate Amendment 925 to the Farm Bill that would have taken important steps to reform the costly sugar program,” said Frances B. Smith, adjunct fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Since the Great Depression, this program has operated as a central planning scheme that sets the domestic supply, provides guaranteed and high prices to sugar producers and restricts competition.”

Before today’s vote, a coalition of consumer, taxpayer and policy organizations had made their objections known through a coalition letter urging Members of Congress to put the U.S. sugar program on the “short list” for substantive reform.

Smith said the sugar program acts as a cross-subsidy to wealthy sugar producers, with consumers footing the bill for domestic sugar that has historically been two to three times the world price. Americans are hit with higher prices for a wide variety of foodstuffs, while also paying the costs of a massive regulatory bureaucracy.

“It is past time for needed reform of this program – one of the worst examples of farm policy,” Smith said.

Read the full coalition letter here.