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Public Statements

Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PITTS. Madam Chairman, I rise to offer my amendment.

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Mr. PITTS. Madam Speaker, for those of us in support of my amendment, I will divide 5 minutes under the control of Congressman Danny Davis, 5 minutes on my side.

I rise in support of my amendment, one that would reform our government's sugar program. For too long, we've seen these subsidies and market protections drive up costs on taxpayers, consumers, and businesses. Let me highlight some of the costs now:

Consumers are paying an extra $3.5 billion a year to subsidize this policy.

Taxpayers are set to foot a bill of $239 million over the next several years, according to the CBO. The CBO estimated our amendment would save $73 million.

American workers are paying the price in job losses. Nearly 127,000 jobs were lost by sugar-using industries between 1997 and 2011. At risk are an additional 600,000 manufacturing jobs.

My amendment would help get the price of sugar closer to the world price. It does so by reforming the sugar program, not repealing it. American sugar is still going to have its support program much the same as it did before the 2008 farm bill. We're simply returning to those policies in order to get a more competitive price, one that will help consumers, manufacturers, and even growers.

Under the 2008 farm bill, refined sugar prices have averaged 68 percent more than under the 2002 farm bill. Our detractors are quick to point out that sugar prices are falling, but then they neglected to tell the taxpayer that they are set to bail out the sugar industry, possibly by amounts of $100 million a year in the coming years. So at the same time this reckless policy sticks the costs of subsidies to consumers, we are set to start spending taxpayer money on supporting sugar farmers, even while the price of U.S. sugar was 64 percent higher than the world price last year.

All we are seeking to do is to return the sugar program to what it was under the 2002 farm bill policy. I'm not sure about you, but I don't remember having any trouble getting sugar into my coffee in 2008. But since the last farm bill, companies have been struggling to find affordable sugar, so much so that Canada has actively been advertising to our manufacturing base that they have access to cheaper sugar. Furthermore, the inflated price of sugar has incentivized Mexico to dump sugar into our market.

So, we're losing jobs to the north, and we're getting hit from foreign sugar from the south due to this reckless policy. So let's reform it. Let's get back into the free market, into the sugar market. Let's get American jobs to stay here. Let's save consumers and taxpayers money. Let's reform our sugar policy.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PITTS. Madam Chairman, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Danny K. Davis.)

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Mr. PITTS. Madam Chairman, at this time I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the distinguished vice chair of the Ag Committee, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goodlatte).

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Mr. PITTS. Madam Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling).

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Mr. PITTS. Madam Chairman, there is nothing in the amendment that will bring an additional ounce of sugar under our shores without explicit approval of the Secretary of Agriculture.

At this time, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent).

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Mr. PITTS. Madam Chair, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Fleischmann).

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Mr. PITTS. Madam Chair, I demand a recorded vote.

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