Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16) introduced the Free Market Sugar Act, a bill to eliminate the USDA sugar program and stop federal government sugar purchases. Ending the program would save approximately $1.4 billion over the next ten years.
Currently, the USDA runs a program that loans money to sugar producers and purchases sugar when the price is low. For instance, in 2000 the USDA purchased sugar at a cost of $500 million. According to the Department of Commerce, artificially high prices created by the sugar program have led to 90,000 jobs lost in sugar-using industries in the last decade.
Rep. Pitts' statement follows:
"The USDA sugar program is a needless waste of government money that is actually counterproductive to the goal of creating jobs in the U.S. Using taxpayer money to back loans to the sugar industry and buy sugar should not be a function of our federal government. Since the program actually raises the U.S. price for sugar, we see some food industry jobs shipped overseas.
"Sugar producers are using the public backing to pocket healthy profits. The American people are fed up with bailouts, and my legislation would stop public money from propping up companies that should be providing for themselves."