U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today co-sponsored a bill to lower sugar prices and make it easier to sell and trade sugar. The result would be lower food prices across the board, as well as lower costs and more jobs for Pennsylvania's confectioners. The bill, identical to an amendment Sen. Toomey introduced to the farm bill last summer, would roll back costly changes made to America's sugar program by the 2008 farm bill. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) is also a lead sponsor of the bill.
"It's time to reform the government's wasteful sugar program. This flawed policy hurts not only candy companies and food manufacturers, but also the families who end up paying higher costs for products made with sugar," Sen. Toomey said. "This bipartisan reform will provide important relief to a very prominent sector of Pennsylvania's economy and to those families purchasing these products. I thank Sen. Shaheen and my good friend Rep. Joe Pitts for their hard and dedicated work here. I believe that this Congress can and will rein in our flawed sugar policies."
The bill would:
* Repeal the Feedstock Flexibility program, which will cost $193 million in the next 10 years. Added to the 2008 farm bill, the program requires the federal government to buy surplus sugar, which is then sold to ethanol companies at a loss.
* Repeal unnecessary trade restrictions, freeing up the Agriculture secretary to increase sugar imports when domestic supplies do not meet demand.
* Give the USDA more flexibility in administering the import quota system, allowing qualifying counties to trade their quotas among each other, ensuring that American companies receive an adequate supply of sugar.
* Reform domestic supply restrictions, giving the USDA more flexibility to modify or suspend marketing allotments. The 2008 bill set an artificial guarantee of 85 percent of consumption. This amendment would give the USDA more flexibility to determine how much sugar producers can sell.
* Eliminate higher price support levels, reducing taxpayers' liability. The 2008 bill increased loan rates, driving up prices for sugar-consuming industries.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in the Senate. Rep. Joe Pitts (PA-16) is a sponsor in the House.
Sen. Toomey is also a co-sponsor of Sen. Shaheen's SUGAR Act (S. 25), which would eliminate the entire sugar program.
Pennsylvania confectioners have joined Sen. Toomey in supporting this amendment:
"Hershey strongly supports the efforts of Sen. Toomey and his colleagues to advance market-oriented reforms of the U.S. sugar program by rolling back the costly provisions added in the 2008 farm bill. Sen. Toomey's amendment would benefit American consumers by providing the food and beverage industry with much-needed relief from tight sugar supplies and artificially high prices," said Terry O'Day, senior vice president of global operations at The Hershey Company.
"Sugar subsidies artificially inflate the price of one of the staples of the candy industry and force us and many other companies to choose between absorbing the higher costs, passing the costs on to consumers or producing elsewhere. The relief this amendment would provide is direly needed and will help us maintain our operations in the United States," said Ross Born, co-CEO of Just Born Candy in Bethlehem.
"Sen. Toomey's amendment to reform the sugar program will repeal some aspects of the sugar policy that impede a competitive marketplace for sugar. This is about jobs here in Pennsylvania, including here at Warrell. We applaud Sen. Toomey's leadership on behalf of the states's confectionery industry," said Kevin Silva, senior vice president at The Warrell Corporation in Camp Hill.
"The United States' sugar policy affects every one of our suppliers. If we have to cut our costs, it affects our corrugated supplier. It affects our chocolate supplier. It affects all of our raw nut suppliers because of the fact that we have to cut costs due to an extra tax that is really unneeded. It's time for sugar reform now," said Steve Schmid, managing partner at Wolfgang Candy Company in York.