June 13, 2012

Senate Votes to Save Sugar Program

Crapo notes on Senate floor how program benefits both consumers and growers

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate today closely defeated an amendment that would have cut the sugar program in the new farm bill.  As co-chairman of the Senate Sweetener Caucus, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of the sugar provisions to both sugar producers and consumers of sugar products.  Idaho sugar producers bring in more than $1 billion in revenue annually to the state through the program that receives no taxpayer funding.

Crapo stressed the sugar provisions in the farm bill affect imports and exports and do not spend a dime of taxpayer funding.  By a vote of 50-46, the amendment to strike the sugar program failed.  The Senate will continue debating amendments to the farm bill over the next two weeks.

A transcript of Crapo's floor speech follows:

Mr. President, I rise today to stress the vital importance of the U.S. sugar program, which has operated successfully at no-cost to American taxpayers, consumers and food manufacturers.

As you know, the sugar beet industry is very important to my State of Idaho, bringing in approximately $1.1 billion in revenue each year.

History has shown that grocers and food manufacturers do not pass their savings from lower ingredient prices along to consumers.  For example, from the summer of 2010 until now, producer prices for sugar have dropped nearly 20 percent.

In fact, the U.S. sugar program remains crucial because other nations are implementing trade-distorting subsidies for their otherwise uncompetitive sugar industries.  The world sugar price, as is so often debated in these halls, suffers from government-backed dumping that protects sugar producers overseas.

Consumers in the rest of the world pay, on average, 14 percent more for sugar-in the developed world, 24 percent more than American consumers pay.  In America, sugar is a readily-available and affordable product. 

Critics of U.S. sugar policy make the argument that the program causes disastrous shortages in U.S. sugar supply, which flies in the face of reality.  U.S. farmers and producers have proven themselves, time and again, to be the most efficient in the world, but they cannot be left alone to face a trade market undermined by foreign government manipulation.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and the latest numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture underline that.  USDA now estimates there is enough surplus sugar to give every man, woman, and child in the country nearly 12 pounds of sugar on top of what they already consume.  Enough surplus sugar to fill the Capitol Dome 55 times.

Mr. President, I strongly urge my colleagues to oppose any attempts at repealing the program.  At risk would be 142,000 American jobs generated by the U.S. sugar-producing industry.  Many of these jobs would be lost to subsidized foreign producers, who are generally less efficient and less reliable, and produce sugar far less safely and responsibly than American producers do.

I support Idaho's sugarbeet growers as well as sugar growers throughout the country, and I am committed to ensuring that they have access to the tools they need to produce an affordable and abundant food supply. 

Thank you, Mr. President.  I yield the floor.