U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) today are announcing plans to implement commonsense reforms to the U.S. sugar program by amending the Senate Farm Bill with a bipartisan effort that will save consumers money. The trio will introduce the Sugar Reform Act as an amendment to roll back unnecessary provisions that unfairly benefit wealthy sugar famers at the expense of consumers. This legislation, introduced earlier this year as a stand-alone bill with bipartisan, bicameral support, will reform domestic supply restrictions, lower price support levels, and ensure adequate sugar supplies at reasonable prices.
"The sugar program is broken and this is a smart, commonsense fix. Right now, American families are footing the bill for an outdated program that offers a sweet deal to a small group of sugar growers and processors. All the while, we're losing manufacturing jobs all over the country as a result," Shaheen said. "This bill will put money back in the wallets of American families and businesses. It's a smart way forward and I hope my colleagues will give this legislation the consideration it deserves this week."
"Illinois' status as the 'Candy Capitol of the world' is increasingly at risk because our current policy artificially inflates the price of sugar," Senator Kirk said. "Our bipartisan amendment will benefit consumers, keep companies from shipping jobs overseas and end the unfair pricing in the sugar industry." Sen. Kirk maintains the Senate's famous "candy desk" with candy stocked from Illinois companies, which employ over 3,000 people.
"It's time to end the government's wasteful sugar program. This flawed policy is corporate welfare at its worst and hurts not only candy companies and food manufacturers, but also the families who end up paying higher costs for food made with sugar," Sen. Toomey said. "This bipartisan reform would stop the federal government from paying wealthy sugar processors from the pockets of American taxpayers. I believe that this Congress can and will eventually rein in our flawed sugar policies."
The federal sugar program has cost consumers and businesses an estimated $14 billion over the last 4 years, and 112,000 jobs have been lost in sugar-using industries between 1997-2009. A similar measure nearly cleared the Senate last summer during debate over the 2012 Farm Bill when it received 46 votes in support.