The NAM has joined the newly created Sugar Policy Alliance, a broad coalition of industry, farm, food and consumer groups and companies who believe that current U.S. sugar policy makes food more expensive, costs jobs — thousands of manufacturing jobs included — and encourages economy-throttling protectionism. The foundation of that policy is limits on the amount of sugar that can be imported, creating artificial shortages that push up price. From the news release announcing the new alliance:
“Current sugar policy costs good jobs for American workers, hampers our export opportunities and hurts consumers while eroding American farmers’ long- term competitiveness,” said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council, a member of the Sugar Policy Alliance. Current sugar policy, which relies on government-regulated price floors, marketing quotas, and import restrictions, prevents the sugar market from operating efficiently. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the program will cost American taxpayers at least $1.3 billion over the next ten years. The economic distortion caused by the current sugar program is estimated to be as much as $1.9 billion a year by the Government Accountability Office.
Senator Richard Durbin, D-IL, is leading the effort in Congress to bring sugar reform to the next Farm Bill; Chicago-based confectionary businesses and their jobs have been killed by high-price sugar.
Sugar interests nearly blocked the Central American Free Trade Agreements (CAFTA). Thank goodness they failed. In 2006, the year after CAFTA’s enactment, U.S. exports to the four countries that had implemented CAFTA jumped 18 percent over 2005. The U.S. trade surplus was $1 billion, compared to the $1.2 deficit in 2005. (Statement from Commerce Secretary Gutierrez here.)
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