One Heck of a Year

Published online: Dec 01, 2021 Feature, News Phillip Hayes, ASA
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This column appears in the November/December 2021 issue of Sugar Producer.

It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly ready to ring in 2022. It’s been a year of unique challenges: The continuing pandemic required that we move Capitol Hill meetings to Zoom; severe weather ranging from drought to hurricanes affected sugar producers across the country; and we said farewell to Jack Roney, who has been a steadfast advocate for America’s sugar farmers and workers for decades.

Despite these ups and downs, the hardworking men and women of the sugar industry have never wavered from their mission to provide Americans with a sustainable, reliable and essential ingredient.

Your dedication has made our work at the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) easy, and we thought we’d take a look back at some of the strides we’ve made this year on behalf of America’s sugar producers.

Redesigned SugarAlliance.org

We started the year by unveiling a completely redesigned SugarAlliance.org. The website got a fresh new look that highlights the stories of our farmers and workers, demonstrates the importance of America’s no-cost sugar policy, and provides both sugar producers and Capitol Hill staff with easy-to-access resources and fact sheets.

Applauded the Resiliency of  Supply Chain

America’s sugar supply chain has proven resilient, in large part due to the stability provided by America’s farm and trade policies. Jack Roney and his successor, Rob Johansson (formerly chief economist at the USDA), prepared an in-depth analysis of the sugar industry, which was then submitted to the USDA.

What they found is that America’s sugar producers successfully responded to rapid shifts in consumer demand due to the COVID-19 global pandemic while also dealing with the impact of a disastrous harvest. That meant that Americans remained well-supplied with sugar, and no manufacturer was ever forced to idle operations due to lack of sugar supplies.

Told Stories of Sustainable Sugar Production

One of the pillars of our successful sugar supply chain has been the sustainability of America’s sugar producers. We have continued to highlight the important efforts made by sugarbeet and sugarcane producers to invest in sustainable farm practices, efficient sugar production, and strong rural communities.

This year, we released new videos from across the industry. Some of our most recent videos featured sugarbeet growers talking about how America’s no-cost sugar policy supports their multi-generational family farms and the indispensable role that bioengineered sugarbeet seeds have played in sustainable sugar production. 

 

Pulled Back Curtain on Russian Sugar Industry

While the world has changed a lot over the past two years, the rampant foreign subsidization of sugar has remained a constant. Russia’s sugar industry made an unexpected transformation from one of the world’s biggest sugar importers to a net exporter of sugar. ASA released a new report on Russia’s rapid rise—and added a new country to our global subsidy map.

What we found is that the Russian government utilized several tactics to regenerate their domestic sugar production, with a price tag of an estimated $392 million a year.

Russia’s newfound role as a potential sugar exporter requires close monitoring, as its decisions moving forward will now carry additional ramifications for the over-subsidized global dump market for sugar. We take seriously the authors’ closing observation on the certainty of continued Russian involvement with the sugarbeet industry,” Johansson wrote in our press release announcing the study.

Cheered the Introduction of Zero-for-Zero

The release of our latest study on the millions of dollars that Russia has pumped into their sugar industry underscored the need for Congress to take a serious look at eliminating all global sugar subsidies. Thankfully, representatives Kat Cammack and Dan Kildee took the lead and reintroduced the bipartisan Zero-for-Zero legislation.

This legislation takes a commonsense approach to sugar subsidies: Only when all foreign countries eliminate their subsidies will the U.S give up its existing no-cost sugar policy.

We’re proud of everything that we have been able to accomplish together and look forward to building on these wins in 2022.