Sen. Bernie Sanders recently attacked the candy industry during a livestream, but the NCA has offered a response.

In a video posted on Twitter, Sanders — who is running for the Democratic nomination for president — discussed which industries had asked for money from the government, which is currently debating financial relief measures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The candy industry, the CANDY industry, is online for $500 million to benefit the likes of the Mars Candy Bar family,” Sanders said. “And this is a family that is one the wealthiest families in America. Worked very hard to reduce taxes for the rich,” Sanders said. “They're in line.”

The NCA responded, and said that the money would actually be used to help small businesses. 

“While some might distort our call for small business loans and assistance to advance their own policy agendas, we know the situation is much more serious than that for the small businesses with less than 250 employees in our industry and across the nation. Wholesalers, distributors and other family-owned companies alike need business interruption liquidity so that they don’t have to lay off their employees. If the small businesses within our industry, not to mention the broader food manufacturing sector, end up failing because of the very serious challenges we are facing as a country, a significant number of jobs will crumble behind them, causing major harm to our economy.”

NCA President and CEO John Downs put out a public call last week asking for financial assistance for small businesses in the confectionery industry. 

In an opinion piece published on Medium, Downs said the multi-generational businesses such as restaurants, ice cream shops and mom-and-pop candy shops are part of the nation's critical infrastructure.

“These companies contribute to the national and local economies in a way that should not be overshadowed by the bailout bonanza for big business currently being considered by Congress and the White House,” Downs wrote. “For many of these small businesses, there is an immediate need for support if these companies are to survive.”

Specifically, Downs noted wholesalers, distributors and other family-owned companies need “business interruption liquidity” or no-interest loans so companies can make payroll and avoid laying off employees.

While Downs’ letter did not mention a specific dollar amount, The Hill reported that the confectionery industry was asking for $500 million in federal assistance. 

Candy Industry reached out to Sanders’ office, but has not yet gotten a reply. If the office replies, this story will be updated.