Congressman Joe Pitts introduced legislation that challenges the U.S. sugar supply policy, claiming it wastes government money and costs jobs.
The U.S. sugar policy, which was established along with the 1981 Farm Bill, works on the basis that supply shouldn’t exceed demand. To do so, the government can restrict the amount of sugar American sugar farmers can sell, can limit the amount that the United States will buy to the level required by trade obligations and divert excess sugar to ethanol production. The idea is to keep sugar prices as stable as possible, but this hasn’t always occurred with market prices hitting a 29-year high in February.
Congressman Joe Pitts, the Republican senator from Pennsylvania, proposed legislation called the Free Market Sugar Act, which has been welcomed by the National Confectioners Association (NCA), a trade organization that has been campaigning for reform of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s sugar policy for some time, though it has said it doesn’t expect a vote to take place during this Congress session.
The current sugar policy, the NCA claims, has sacrificed 14,000 confectionery jobs and more than 75,000 food manufacturing jobs from the United States over the past 10 years as companies have bought sugar from countries with cheaper supplies.
The American Sugar Alliance (ASA), which represents the interests of U.S. sugar growers, has consistently opposed food industry calls for increased imports. The ASA reportedly insists that the current sugar policy has widespread support, claiming that it costs no more for taxpayers, stabilizes prices and allows sugar users to continue making healthy profits.
Pitts disagrees, saying that the current program is a waste of government money, actually raises U.S. sugar prices and is actually counterproductive to the goal of creating jobs in the United States.
“The American people are fed up with bailouts,” he says. “My legislation would stop public money from propping up companies that should be providing for themselves.”