Shaheen and Toomey Introduce Bipartisan Sugar Reform Bill to Cut Costs and Protect American Jobs

November 07, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Today, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced the Sugar Policy Modernization Act. The bill, which is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 16 senators, makes commonsense reforms to the federal sugar support program that will save money and protect American jobs.

“Reform of the federal sugar program is long overdue. Our current policies create heavy costs for consumers and put American jobs at risk,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bipartisan bill will help make reasonable, commonsense changes to the federal sugar support program to cut wasteful spending and help grow American businesses. It’s time for Congress to put special interests aside and work to reduce costs and protect American workers in New Hampshire and across the country.”

“The current sugar program is a bad deal for American consumers and federal taxpayers. It is time to reform this government corporate welfare program that hikes food costs for families and threatens thousands of well-paying jobs in Pennsylvania.” said Senator Toomey. “I thank Senator Shaheen and Representatives Foxx and Davis for their hard work as we advance this bipartisan bill, which will rein in our flawed sugar policies and save taxpayer dollars.”

Specifically, the bill would repeal domestic supply restrictions, reduce market distortions caused by sugar import quotas, and ensure taxpayers don’t foot the bill for bailouts of the sugar industry. The Sugar Policy Modernization Act has a broad coalition of support from consumer, business and environmental groups. U.S. Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced a companion version of the bill in the House of Representatives.

“Our nation’s antiquated sugar program is essentially a commodity program that seeks to prop up prices for the sugar industry at every turn of the corner, sticking consumers with the bill. The way our current system is set up, taxpayers and manufacturers bear all of the risks in the form of bailouts, uncertainty and shortages, while the sugar industry reaps guaranteed rewards,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx. “That’s why we’ve introduced the Sugar Policy Modernization Act which finally gets the sugar program to a zero-cost program by ending special-interest bailouts.”

"This job killing subsidy program is like a vampire, refusing to die while continuing to enrich a handful of well-connected plantation owners at the expense of hundreds of thousands of confectionary jobs in the United States," said Congressman Davis. “In 1987 Brach's, located in the 7th Congressional District, was Chicago's sixth-largest manufacturer, with 4,000 workers. The average worker spent 27 years in a Brach's plant. Largely due to the sugar subsidy those jobs, those careers, are gone now and the old Brach's factory in the industrial park on Chicago's Westside which once employed over 1,000 workers is a wasteland. The continuation of the sugar program today puts 7,000 Illinois manufacturing jobs at risk while the cost to taxpayers has skyrocketed and will continue to grow."

Sugar was the only commodity whose federal support program was not reformed by the latest five-year reauthorization of agricultural programs, the 2014 Farm Bill. Since 2008, the federal sugar support program has cost consumers and businesses as much as $4 billion per year. Senators Shaheen and Toomey have a history of working across the aisle to fight for reform to the sugar program, both through previous amendments to the Farm Bill and through bipartisan legislation with former Senator Kirk to roll back these unnecessary provisions that unfairly benefit a small group of sugar producers and processors at the expense of consumers and other businesses.

Original cosponsors of the bill include Senators Hassan (D-NH), Alexander (R-TN), Casey (D-PA), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Heller (R-NV), Kaine (D-VA), Markey (D-MA), McCain (R-AZ), McCaskill (D-MO), Portman (R-OH), Warner (D-VA) and Warren (D-MA).