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Halloween cards sent to Senate offices highlight wasteful program, cost to jobs


(Washington, DC) With Halloween as a backdrop, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) are highlighting flaws with the sugar price support program that must be addressed on behalf of consumers and small businesses. The bipartisan duo sent Halloween cards to every member of the Senate today that stress the importance of reforming the outdated sugar program by emphasizing the negative economic impacts of the current policy.

The United States controls the price of sugar, causing businesses in sugar-using industries to pay at times twice the price for sugar as their foreign counterparts, while at other times requiring U.S. taxpayers to bail out sugar growers and processors. The U.S. Department of Commerce has estimated that for every sugar-growing job saved through high sugar prices, approximately three manufacturing jobs are lost.

“Halloween provides a disturbing reminder of sugar’s sweet deal,” Shaheen said. “Sugar is the most tightly controlled commodity market in our country, and this outdated policy is costing our country jobs and hurting our economy.  I’m working with Senator Kirk to fix this broken program that costs an estimated three manufacturing jobs for every sugar-growing job saved and has cost consumers and businesses as much as $14 billion between 2008 and today.”

"The antiquated, anti-competitive sugar price support program costs the federal government millions of dollars every month and costs our economy jobs," said Kirk, who maintains the famous Senate Candy Desk with candy stocked from Illinois companies, which employ over 3000 workers. "It's time we end this unfair pricing scheme that protects a select few sugar growers unnecessarily. Our bill offers a commonsense solution to help to bring the 125,000 skilled manufacturing jobs that were forced abroad by this program back to the U.S. where they belong."

Senators Shaheen and Kirk have rallied bipartisan, bicameral support behind their legislation, the Sugar Reform Act of 2013, which aims to reform the outdated sugar program in order to protect jobs and small businesses. The bill specifically reforms domestic supply restrictions, lowers price support levels and ensures adequate sugar supplies at reasonable prices. The legislation would roll back provisions that unfairly benefit a small group of sugar growers and processors at the expense of American consumers and taxpayers. During the recent Farm Bill debate, Shaheen and Kirk’s legislation received strong bipartisan support but was ultimately not included in the Senate Farm Bill package.

Analysts estimate that more than $250 million taxpayer dollars have been spent on the sugar program over the past four months while U.S. candy makers continue to shift production overseas because foreign rivals are able to offer better pricing. Between 1997 and 2011, more than 125,000 American jobs were lost in sugar-using industries.