The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Americans Continue to Pay More for Sugar

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


As people eat their leftover Easter candy from last weekend, they may want to think about how much they paid for all those treats. Raw sugar in the United States regularly costs twice or triple the world average, and this hurts food companies and leads to high prices at the grocery store.

U.S. laws artificially inflate the price of sugar to benefit a small cadre of farmers and processors. A combination of production quotas, import restrictions, and subsidies that the Department of Agriculture oversees has more in common with the central planning of Communist Cuba than it does with the free market model prized in the United States.

American sugar is processed from both sugarcane and sugar beets. These growers (and the processors who use their crops) have had a lot of support in Congress over the decades. Congress sets sugar policy every five years through a piece of legislation that in known as the Farm Bill.

The U.S. government has guaranteed a minimum price for sugar since 1981. For the American companies and small businesses that use sugar as an ingredient in their products, this high cost has cut into their margins and forced many to relocate outside of the United States.

In fact, 123,000 jobs were lost in the United States between 1997 and 2015 because of our bad sugar policy. For every grower that the U.S.’ sugar policy has helped, three manufacturing jobs have been harmed. Candy makers, bakers, and beverage manufactures are just some examples of the types of businesses who are forced to pass on the high price of sugar to their customers.

American consumers have lost between $2.4-$4 billion due to these bad policies.

The Members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees have stubbornly continued these protectionist sugar measures that hurt American consumers. The lobbyists working for sugar barons and organizations such as the American Sugar Alliance have had an outsized influence over U.S. sugar policy during my lifetime.

A new Farm Bill is due to be marked-up by the House Agriculture Committee on April 18th. It’s time to tell Congress to finally repeal this protectionist scheme designed to transfer wealth from consumers to sugar growers and processors.

If Congress modernizes the U.S.’ sugar policy, we can bring more jobs back to America.

 

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