Stabenow Speaks Up for Sugar

Published online: May 18, 2011 American Sugar Alliance
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Add Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to the growing list of influential decision makers speaking out in support of U.S. sugar policy. Earlier this month, when asked by a journalist whether she was happy with the current sugar policy, Sen. Stabenow had this to say: Michigan is one of the top four sugar states. I think the sugar program works. We put in the 2008 farm bill that it would have to operate at no cost. If [sugar producers are] interested in making changes, we'll listen certainly to the folks involved with sugar, but I think this has been a program that's worked. That's high praise from a key architect of the 2012 Farm Bill, but Stabenow isn't alone. Collin Peterson (MN), the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee has intensified his strong support for the policy, which sugar producers want to see extended without change in the next Farm Bill. In an interview distributed to every farm radio broadcaster in the country, Peterson vowed to put his muscle behind continuation of the no-cost policy. He reiterated this position in a separate interview with a Minnesota radio station, saying, "It doesn't cost any money, so [continuation is] kind of an easy [decision]." And if you think sugar policy is only popular on one side of the political aisle, or just with veteran lawmakers, think again. Last month, freshman House Member Jeff Landry (R-LA) said sugar policy's no-cost status should give it an upper hand in today's tough budget atmosphere. Landry also said during the radio interview that he plans to be a champion for sugar policy's continuation and will make sure fellow budget hawks in the freshman class are aware of sugar's positive story. Statements like these, combined with recent no-cost budget projections and public endorsements from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, make it easy to see why sugar producers are so upbeat about the future of their successful policy.