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Shaheen Urges Department of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative to Address Sugar Shortages, Trade and Supply Chain Issues to Lower Costs for Americans

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to urge the agency to swiftly implement recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in its recent report, Sugar Program: Alternative Methods for Implementing Import Restrictions Could Increase Effectiveness.

In part, Senator Shaheen wrote: “According to GAO, the U.S. sugar program is creating sugar supply shortages for domestic food production and contributing to higher costs for manufacturers, workers and American families, disproportionately affecting low-income households. […] It’s clear that the U.S. sugar program administration and the lack of any modernization—despite decades of change and growth in the America economy—is leading to sugar supply chain bottlenecks for food manufacturers and contributing to high food costs incurred by all Americans.”

In its report, GAO found research suggesting the U.S. sugar program costs American consumers, on estimate, $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion each year. GAO further found significant opportunities for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative to reduce inefficiencies in administration of the U.S. sugar program and to make the program more effective.

Shaheen concluded: “Swift implementation of these practical reforms to trade policy present a powerful opportunity to provide relief to families at the grocery store, increase domestic manufacturing, strengthen critical supply chains and continue to safeguard domestic sugar production. These are worthy and achievable goals, and I appreciate that GAO acknowledges that there are commonsense ways to move forward on this issue with broadly shared benefits for the American economy.”

The letter can be read in its entirety here.

Shaheen leads action in the U.S. Senate to make overdue sugar policy reform. Sugar was the only commodity whose federal support program was not reformed in five-year reauthorizations of agricultural programs, neither in the 2014 nor the 2018 Farm Bills. Senator Shaheen has 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 U.S. Senator Toomey (R-PA) 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. Additionally, she has for years pushed the Administration to increase domestic access to imported sugar.