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Candy Makers Highlight Negative Impact of U.S. Sugar Program
USAgNet - 04/04/2018

In a new video series, workers and leaders from iconic American chocolate and candy companies highlight the ways the outdated U.S. sugar program is hurting their small businesses and impeding economic growth. These vignettes explore what the sugar program -- which essentially doubles the cost of sugar for U.S.-based food companies -- means for the future of small, family-owned businesses and manufacturers.

The sugar program is a complicated, bureaucratic mess of price supports, market allocations, quotas, and government guarantees that are ultimately covered by taxpayer dollars. It is the only commodity subsidy program that has not been modernized in the past 80 years. The program forces manufacturers to pay twice as much for sugar as the rest of the world, putting American businesses at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to creating jobs.

"Not only am I competing with unfair trade laws with places like Europe, but I'm also now having to buy ingredients that are sometimes twice as expensive," says Tess Albanese with Albanese Confectionery Group, Inc. "Untie my hand behind my back and let me have a fair fight [...] We need to level the playing field so that my family can go out there and we can create jobs, and we can win on a national and international level."

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, every sugar-processing job subsidized through artificially high U.S. sugar prices costs three American manufacturing jobs. The impact is so great that the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the sugar program killed 123,000 jobs between 1997 and 2015.

The sugar program has zero benefit for the American consumer - and this "sugar shakedown" is baked into nearly every food, snack, and treat available in grocery store aisles. Independent estimates show this hidden tax costs Americans between $2.4 and $4 billion each year.

"We're the only gum ball manufacturer left in the United States, because all of my competitors have fled either up to Canada or down to Mexico where they can take advantage of world sugar and not have to pay the excessive sugar price that U.S. manufacturers are forced to pay," George Stege of the Ford Gum & Machine Company says in his video. "The time for change has long passed; the time for change is now."

The Sugar Policy Modernization Act (H.R. 4265 / SB. 2086), introduced by a bicameral, bipartisan group of federal lawmakers late last year, would reform the outdated and outrageous program.

The proposal creates an adequate supply of sugar based on a reasonable competitive approach that reaches from the farm to the retail shelf -- without risking an appropriate safety net for farmers. Congress can reform the U.S. sugar program this year as part of its consideration of the 2018 Farm Bill, which sets government agriculture policy.

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