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Amendment would ban taxpayer dollars from going to multi-million dollar sugar processors as loans

(Washington, DC) – A bipartisan coalition led by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today introduced an amendment to an appropriations package currently under Senate consideration to cut a wasteful spending practice under the broken U.S. sugar program. The Sugar Reform and Taxpayer Protection Amendment would specifically ban the practice of taxpayer dollars going to extremely large, multi-million dollar sugar processors through a program that has already cost taxpayers more than $250 million in the last year alone. The bipartisan amendment is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), John McCain (R-AZ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dan Coats (R-IN) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“Our country’s broken sugar program is forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for a sweet deal to a select group of sugar growers and processors,” Senator Shaheen said. “We cannot afford to stay on this path, and our bipartisan plan would cut the wasteful practice of giving out taxpayer loans to extremely large companies. I’ve been pushing these reforms for years and it’s time Congress finally acts.”

"I have long advocated for reform of the government's wasteful sugar program, which harms food manufacturers, kills jobs, and forces American households to pay higher costs to feed their families," Senator Toomey said. "Congress can and should rein in our flawed sugar policies. As a first step, let’s stop using taxpayer funds on the indefensible sugar program."

“The government shouldn’t be spending millions of dollars propping up the sugar industry, which drives up consumer costs and leaves taxpayers on the hook for loan forfeitures,” Senator Ayotte said. “Our common sense measure would end wasteful government subsidies to large sugar processors and protect Americans from bearing the cost of inflated sugar prices.”

“This bipartisan amendment would help tackle the long-overdue and necessary reforms to the federal government's sugar program, which drives up costs for American consumers and businesses,” Senator Collins said. “Eliminating these loans for the largest sugar processors would go a long way in protecting taxpayers.”

“As our national debt soars, Congress cannot continue to throw money at a broken sugar program,” Senator Portman said. “We simply cannot afford to waste taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars on a program that increases costs for consumers and hurts job growth, and I urge Congress to act quickly to pass these cost-saving reforms.”

The amendment introduced by Shaheen would eliminate unnecessary federal loans to a select group of sugar processors whose revenues from sugar exceed $300 million a year. The amendment would prevent taxpayer money from going to extremely large sugar processors and reduce the cost of future taxpayer bailouts of the sugar industry, which cost more than $250 million last year alone. In total, the federal sugar program has cost consumers and businesses an estimated $14 billion since 2008, and 127,000 jobs have been lost in sugar-using industries between 1997 and 2011.