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Senators Introduce SUGAR (Stop Unfair Giveaway and Restrictions) Act

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today introduced a bipartisan bill that would phase out the sugar support program and save consumers billions of dollars. The SUGAR (Stop Unfair Giveaway and Restrictions) Act, co-sponsored by Mark Kirk (R-IL), comes as part of Shaheen's effort to eliminate unnecessary government programs.

"The sugar support program costs consumers $4 billion a year-to disproportionally benefit a limited group of wealthy sugar producers," Shaheen said. "The SUGAR Act protects consumers, saves American jobs, and allows U.S. confectioners, bakers, beverage companies, and food manufacturers to stay in business. We must stop sugar's sweet deal."

Price supports keep the cost of U.S. sugar artificially high, nearly twice the world price, which causes significant problems for consumers and sugar-using industries.

 "Sugar price supports are an unnecessary market intervention that have no place in our 21st century economy," Shaheen said. "It's my aim to eliminate such antiquated government spending programs."

Today, there are only about 4,700 growers of sugarcane and sugar beets-and yet U.S. consumers are subsidizing them to the tune of $4 billion a year in higher prices.  Additionally, buyers and sellers are prevented from trading freely because of special restrictions on imports and domestic production.

Currently, no other U.S. crop is subject to similar restrictions, making the current price supports an unfair deal for consumers.  Plus, high sugar prices were responsible for the loss of 112,000 jobs lost in sugar-using industries between 1997 and 2009, according to Promar International, a food and agriculture consulting firm. A 2006 Department of Commerce study estimated that for every sugar growing job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, approximately three manufacturing jobs are lost.

"I am eager to work with Senator Shaheen on legislation to address federal price support and protection for sugar producers that continue to drive up costs for American consumers and send U.S. jobs abroad.  Such practice is outdated and ripe for reform," Kirk said.

"The sugar program has hurt Americans through higher consumer prices and lost jobs.  It needs dramatic change, and we commend the Senators for their bipartisan effort to reform an outdated big-government policy," said Larry Graham, chairman of the Sugar Policy Alliance, an organization of consumer groups and food manufacturers that works for sugar policy reform. 

As part of Shaheen's ongoing effort to end antiquated and unnecessary government programs, today she also introduced The Elimination of Double Subsidies for the Hardrock Mining Industry Act of 2011. It is a bill that would end an unfair giveaway of taxpayer dollars that lets mining companies take tax deductions for mining public lands they already use for free.