Senator Richard Lugar has been visiting points throughout Indiana as part of a campaign to reform the U.S. sugar policy, which he says keeps sugar prices artificially high and costs U.S. jobs.

In March, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced the Free Sugar Act of 2011, a bill designed to end the sugar price support program and attracting a wide backing among those in the food industry. The American Sugar Alliance, which represents the interests of sugar cane and beet growers, reports that the U.S. sugar policy “hasn’t cost taxpayers a dime since 2001,” though Lugar insists that the policy creates a hidden tax.

“Sugar producers argue that it’s ‘no cost’ because they don’t receive direct payments,” Lugar adds. “Instead, businesses and consumers bear the burden for this welfare system-as much as $4 billion a year in higher costs, according to a recent estimate.”

Lugar conducted an Indiana-wide “Sweet Jobs” campaign in hopes of raising awareness about the U.S. sugar policy. He claims the current policy has pushed U.S. sugar prices far above global prices and has led to the loss of American jobs.

“The price of sugar affects food and beverage costs for all Americans, as small businesses and confectioners are forced to raise prices for items such as bread, tomato sauce, peanut butter and other common foods that contain sugar,” Lugar says. “Every time Hoosiers see sugar listed as an ingredient on their food labels, they should know they are paying more than they should because of the federal government’s sugar policy.”

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Commerce investigated if food manufacturing and sugar refining jobs are moving overseas because of the sugar policy, concluding that “for each one sugar growing and harvesting job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, nearly three confectionery manufacturing jobs are lost.”