Sugar producers use radio to turn up the dial in policy debate

Published online: Aug 13, 2013
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With sugar prices slumping because of foreign subsidies and a new farm bill still far from completion, U.S. sugar producers are taking to the airwaves to tell their story. 
 
Two audio segments produced at the 30th International Sweetener Symposium will be sent to radio stations across the country, and both describe the importance of U.S. sugar policy amid rapidly changing market conditions.
 
"Global subsidies have made sugar the world's most volatile commodity market," explained the first segment. "But some U.S. lawmakers are now pushing a subsidy cease-fire in hopes of helping a free market take shape."
 
Patrick Chatenay, a UK-based sugar expert, was interviewed and noted that getting subsidies under control in Brazil should be a first order of business.
 
"Using three decades of subsidies and government incentives, Brazil has captured 50 percent of global sugar exports," he said. "Brazil is actively trying to strengthen its market dominance, recently announcing increases to their $2.5 billion a year in sugar subsidies."
 
A new bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) would make a free market for sugar a priority, according to the piece. That approach, known as a "zero-for-zero" sugar policy, would vow to eliminate U.S. sugar policy if other countries would stop subsidizing and let a free market take shape.
 
Sugar producers support this approach, but large candy companies do not, and instead are lobbying to outsource U.S. sugar production to subsidized producers like Brazil.
 
In another radio report, it is noted that these same candy companies are thriving under the current sugar policy.
 
"Confectioners and other producers of sweetened products are adding more jobs, growing revenues faster and achieving higher profitability than other food processing segments," explained University of Maryland Professor Alexander Triantis, who recently conducted extensive research in the arena.
 
"Weakening U.S. sugar policy would have minimal effect on these companies," he noted, "but would hold disastrous consequences for the 142,000 people supported by the sugar producing industry."
 
In addition to Chatenay and Triantis, sugar producers also recorded interviews with other Symposium participants, including USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse, Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX), Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL), and International Sugar Organization Executive Director Peter Baron.
 
Those interviews, and others, can be downloaded at www.ASAradio.org.