U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has co-sponsored a bipartisan amendment to lower sugar prices and reduce restrictions on the sale and trade of sugar. The amendment, introduced to the pending farm bill (S. 3240), would roll back costly changes made to America's sugar program in the 2008 farm bill.
"I have long advocated for reform of the government's wasteful sugar program, which hurts consumers, candy companies, food manufacturers and the suppliers that depend on them," Sen. Toomey said. "I'm confident that this bipartisan approach to reform will provide important relief to a prominent sector of Pennsylvania's economy and help protect taxpayers."
The amendment would:
Repeal the Feedstock Flexibility program, which will cost $193 million in the next 10 years. The program was added to the 2008 farm bill and 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 amendment was introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
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 state'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.