THE U.S. SUGAR PROGRAM: A TRICK ON CONSUMERS AND A TREAT FOR THE SUGAR INDUSTRY

With candy and cards, Shaheen and Kirk urge colleagues to repeal costly sugar support program

October 19, 2011

(Washington, DC)– As they hand out Halloween cards and candy to their colleagues today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) have a message for their colleagues:  repeal the federal government's costly sugar support program by supporting their Stop Unfair Giveaways and Restrictions (SUGAR) Act (S. 25).This bipartisan legislation would phase out the sugar support program to help save money for consumers and bring jobs back to American workers.

“Halloween is the biggest day of the year for our domestic candy makers. But even with the help of trick-or-treaters, these companies face stiff competition from foreign manufacturers who enjoy an unfair advantage – access to cheaper sugar. That’s because of an outdated sugar policy that benefits the sugar industry at the expense of consumers and businesses,” Shaheen said. “I want to urge my colleagues to support the SUGAR Act and get rid of this unnecessary program that is costing our economy $4 billion a year. We need to stop sugar’s sweet deal.”

“As families across the nation indulge in a sweet tooth this Halloween, we should stop the sweetheart deal the sugar industry has negotiated for itself,” said Senator Kirk.  “These price supports are a jobs killer and force higher commodity prices.  I’m proud to cosponsor the SUGAR Act with Sen. Shaheen and hope we can move quickly to end this practice."

Kirk, who sits at the famous Senate “candy desk” and will hand out special Halloween cards today (see attached) with his candy today that urge his Senate colleagues to support the bill.

Sugar is the most tightly controlled commodity in the U.S. market. Government price supports for the sugar industry keep the cost of U.S. sugar artificially high, nearly twice the world price, which causes significant additional costs for consumers and sugar-using industries.

These high sugar prices were responsible for the loss of 112,000 jobs lost in sugar-using industries between 1997 and 2009, according to industry analysts. Sugar price supports cost American families and businesses $4 billion a year, according to a new industry study released today by food and agriculture consulting firm Promar International.

Shaheen and Kirk published an op-ed on the SUGAR act this week: Sugar policy bitter for consumers, manufacturers and sent the following letter to other Senators asking for their support:

October 19, 2011

Dear Colleague:

In the coming weeks, Americans will be stocking up on candy to celebrate Halloween with their families and neighbors. Unfortunately for American consumers, they’ll be paying more than they should for that candy, thanks to an outdated program that artificially raises the price of sugar and costs consumers and businesses billions of dollars every year. We invite you to stand up for these consumers by cosponsoring S.25, the Stop Unfair Giveaways and Restrictions (SUGAR) Act, which would finally repeal this “trick” on consumers and “treat” for the sugar industry.

The current U.S. sugar program keeps domestic sugar prices artificially high. A study released just this week estimates that this archaic program costs consumers over $4 billion every year. These higher prices disproportionately benefit a limited group of large sugar producers and constitute an unnecessary burden at a time when American families need relief.

Not only does the sugar program hurt consumers, but also it costs us jobs. High sugar prices were responsible for the loss of 112,000 jobs in sugar-using industries between 1997 and 2009. Alarmingly, a 2006 Department of Commerce study estimates that for every sugar-growing job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, approximately three manufacturing jobs are lost.

The SUGAR Act will end the wasteful and outdated sugar program, save consumers billions of dollars, and help U.S. companies protect American jobs. Supporters of our sugar reform bill include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Foreign Trade Policy Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Baker Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, the National Confections Association, the Sweetener Users Association, and the Everglades Trust.

If you have any questions or would like to cosponsor, please contact Chris Neary (224-7091) in Senator Shaheen’s office or Devin Meyer in Senator Kirk’s office (224-2854).

Thank you for your consideration, and Happy Halloween!

Sincerely,

Jeanne Shaheen
United States Senator                                                   

Mark Kirk
United States Senator

Press Contact

Press Office, (202) 224-5553