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Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, on our side, let me tell my colleagues if they want to preserve jobs, vote against the Shaheen-Toomey amendment. The U.S. policy on sugar defends more than 142,000 jobs in 22 States and nearly $20 billion in annual economic activity. Their amendment is bad policy. The taxpayers do not pay a penny on the Sugar Program. Domestic production is supported by import restrictions which have been used wisely over time, so this amendment would effectively kill America's no-cost Sugar Program.

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Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, if it pleases the Chair, I would like to say a few remarks about sugar, but I am not sure about the chairwoman's plans.

I thank the chairwoman of the committee and the ranking member. I know they are deciding what other amendments we are going to take up later this evening and how the votes will proceed. But let me again just thank my colleague from Michigan for her great lead and leadership on the farm bill.

This sugar amendment was very important to the people of Louisiana whom I represent, and I want to just thank my colleagues for their vote to keep a program in place that has worked at no cost to the taxpayer--no direct cash. It is monitored or organized or designed through an import restriction program that allows for the robust production of sugarcane and sugar beets in our Nation.

I thank Senator Shaheen for the wonderful way she handled the debate. We have different views about this, but we are colleagues and we work together very well. There are two sides to this issue. I think the evidence on our side is stronger. She would probably disagree. But I thank our colleagues for supporting the sugar caucus.

In Louisiana, sugarcane is being produced on over 427,000 acres in 22 parishes. Production is about 14 million tons, which is about 20 percent of the total sugar grown in the United States.

Last year, in 2012, Louisiana sugar mills produced 1.6 million tons of raw sugar, the largest amount we have ever produced in our State. This production represents a huge part of our State's economy. The loss of market for this product would be devastating. Let me say that the State of Hawaii, the State of Florida, states such as Minnesota and North Dakota and South Dakota that have strong sugar beet crops, it is very important for them as well.

Are the consumers hurt by this? Absolutely not. The U.S. sugar price is 14 percent below the world average, and 24 percent below the average for developed nations. So our policy is a good balance of encouraging domestic production and keeping prices stable and affordable for the consumer.

Let me say for candy production--and I have a small amount of candy produced in Louisiana. I am very proud of these companies. American food manufacturers say they are shedding jobs, but in my view this has nothing to do with U.S. sugar policy. In fact, U.S. sweetened product manufacturers are prospering and expanding. Candy production is rising, not falling, up by 9 percent since 2004. In addition, sugar represents just a tiny portion of the price these food retailers charge for their products--1 percent of the cost of a cupcake, 2 percent of the cost of a candy bar, 3 percent of the cost of a carton of ice cream, and 5 percent of a bag of hard candy. So I think our arguments won the day. I appreciate our colleagues supporting the sugar caucus. We thank you for keeping this bill intact with the balance it needs to move forward so we can have a robust farm agriculture reauthorization bill for this United States.

I yield the floor.

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