Just days before the U.S. House of Representatives voted down the latest effort to gut U.S. sugar policy, Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) introduced a new "zero-for-zero" sugar policy that instructs the administration to target the foreign sugar subsidies that are distorting world prices and keeping a free market from forming.
The American Sugar Alliance (ASA) praised Yoho and the nine original co-sponsors of H.Con.Res. 39, which would also advocate for the end of U.S. sugar policy once market-distorting programs in foreign countries are eliminated.
Calling the legislation "a dramatic cease-fire of sugar subsidization," ASA Chairman Ryan Weston said, "Americans are efficient sugar producers, and we believe that the U.S. government should back policies that reward the best business people, not the most subsidized."
But he warned that efforts to target U.S. policies without addressing foreign subsidies would only harm the U.S. economy and leave America dependent on unreliable foreign producers.
Since May, both the House and the Senate have rejected attempts by large candy companies to unilaterally disarm and reward heavily subsidized countries like Brazil and Mexico with even more of the U.S. market.
Global sugar supplies and the world price are dominated by Brazil, which Weston calls the "OPEC of sugar." Brazil used three decades of subsidies to gain control of half of the world's sugar exports, and the country's sugar empire currently receives $2.5 billion a year in handouts.
Meanwhile, Mexico is using a government-ownership scheme to flood the U.S. sugar market and artificially depress prices. The Mexican government owns and operates 20 percent of the country's sugar production and is its biggest sugar producer and exporter.
"Simply put, foreign subsidies have gotten out of hand, and if we're ever going to have a free market in sugar, we must do something about it," Weston noted.
"To unilaterally disarm America by gutting U.S. sugar policy without addressing these foreign subsidies, as some are advocating, does nothing to further a free market," he said. "Anyone who supports free market principles should support this bill."
Co-sponsors of the zero-for-zero policy include Reps. William Cassidy (R-LA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Trey Radel (R-FL), Martha Roby (R-AL), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL). Weston says the industry is encouraging others to cosponsor.
In addition to the ASA, free-market advocates like the American Conservative Union have publicly endorsed the Yoho legislation.