Momentum building for `zero-for-zero' sugar policy

Published online: Aug 14, 2013
Legislation introduced by Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) to end global sugar subsidies in favor of a free market has picked up key endorsements in recent weeks, including many conservative organizations and numerous lawmakers.
Yoho's bill would instruct the administration to target the foreign sugar subsidies that are distorting world prices. Once foreign subsidies are eradicated, U.S. sugar policy would be eliminated.
The "zero-for-zero" sugar policy was introduced in June with nine original co-sponsors: 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).  Since introduction, five additional lawmakers have joined the effort: Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Ted Poe (R-TX), and Mac Thornberry (R-TX).
Co-sponsor recruitment should pick up steam after the American Conservative Union and nine other conservative leaders sent a letter to Republican lawmakers last week urging support.
"A new resolution by Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) provides the path forward to reforming global subsidies and U.S. policy," the groups wrote. "It advocates a halt to all market-manipulating policies worldwide, without jeopardizing U.S. jobs or America's ability to produce a homegrown crop."
The letter also noted, "Efforts to unilaterally disarm U.S. sugar policy before such changes materialize will do nothing to further free-market principles while leaving American consumers dependent on other countries for a vital food ingredient."
The American Sugar Alliance also joined the zero-for-zero recruitment effort after its board of directors decided at the 30th International Sweetener Symposium to help attract co-sponsors.
"U.S. sugar farmers are efficient by world standards, and the only reason we need a policy is world market distortion," explained ASA Chairman Ryan Weston. "We've long advocated for a free market and recognize that something must be done about the rapid run-up in foreign subsidization."
Weston pointed to subsidies in Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, and India as the most egregious and in immediate need for reform.