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Sugar reform bill would save consumers money, protect jobs by lowering federal price support levels

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) today reintroduced the Sugar Reform Act, legislation that would save taxpayers and consumers money by rolling back unnecessary provisions that unfairly benefit a small group of sugar producers and processors. Current law protects domestic sugar producers by providing generous price support loans, restricting the amount sugar farmers can sell and the number of sugar imports, resulting in higher prices for consumers at a significant cost to taxpayers. The program has already cost consumers more than $14 billion since 2008 and meanwhile, 125,000 jobs in sugar-using industries have been lost since 1997.  

The bipartisan bill would reform domestic supply restrictions and lower price support levels in order to save taxpayers money, all while still ensuring adequate sugar supplies at reasonable prices. The Shaheen-Kirk-Toomey legislation is cosponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dan Coats (R-IN), John McCain (R-AZ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Ron Johnson (R-WI)

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for a sweet deal for a small group of sugar producers and processors,” Senator Shaheen said. “This is a perfect example of an outdated government program that’s hurting consumers, putting taxpayer dollars at risk and costing jobs. It’s time we acted on this bipartisan reform effort and put money back in the wallets of American families and businesses.”

"7,000 Illinois jobs depend on the sugar industry, but thanks to sugar's high prices, more than 130,000 American jobs have been lost to countries overseas," Senator Kirk said. "We need to end Depression-era subsidy programs that cost American consumers more than $14 billion, and work to keep good jobs here in Illinois."

"It's time to end the government's wasteful sugar program. This flawed policy is corporate welfare at its worst and hurts not only candy companies and food manufacturers, but also the families who end up paying higher costs for food made with sugar," Senator Toomey said. "This bipartisan reform would stop the federal government from paying wealthy sugar processors from the pockets of American taxpayers.  I believe that this Congress can and will eventually rein in our flawed sugar policies."

The Sugar Reform Act maintains the basic sugar program while making commonsense reforms that protect the wallets of American families and businesses. The legislation repeals unnecessary provisions added in 2008 that unfairly benefit the sugar industry at the expense of consumers. The 2008 provisions led to a nearly $300 million bailout of the sugar industry in 2013 when the federal government was forced to buy hundreds of thousands of tons of sugar to protect sugar processors from default who borrowed taxpayer dollars under the current price-support program. The Department of Commerce has found that for every job saved by the unfair sugar program, three manufacturing jobs are lost.