Sugar Farmers: Stakes Have Never Been Higher

Published online: Sep 22, 2022 News American Sugar Alliance
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“If we value a strong food supply, we need America and Congress to continue supporting our farmers, now and in the future.”

The Hill recently published an op-ed from North Dakota sugarbeet farmer Jason Schatzke and Texas sugarcane farmer Lance Neuhaus, detailing how increasing costs threaten their farms and our nation’s food security. The challenges faced by Schatzke, Neuhaus, and thousands of other farmers across the country underscore the importance of federal farm policies. They wrote:

“Like all of America’s farmers, we’re willing to do what it takes to get the job done and feed people across our nation. But as the number of farmers in America continues to dwindle, we need to take our food security seriously, especially as other nations are confronted by growing food scarcity and hunger.

“The past few years have dealt agriculture some heavy blows, but thanks to the stability provided by federal farm policies and a sugar policy that costs taxpayers nothing, we have been able to navigate these challenges — so far.”

Many American sugar farmers will soon be headed into the fields to harvest the sugar crops that supply American households, restaurants, and food manufacturers with high-quality, affordable sugar, grown and produced under some of the world’s most rigorous environmental and labor standards. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of sugar farmers and workers, Americans enjoy an ample supply of sugar. Anyone can walk into a grocery store and find sugar on the shelf.

Yet, even as growers like Schatzke and Neuhaus are hard at work in the fields, Big Candy is taking aim at American farmers. It’s a bitter blame game to be playing when it’s our food security on the line.

“When a $1.50 candy bar contains only roughly $0.02 cents worth of sugar, it’s clear that blaming sugar farmers for the double-digit inflation for confectionary products is a bitter attempt to deflect attention from the fact that corporate candy companies are thriving while farmers are hurting,” said Rob Johansson, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis at the American Sugar Alliance (ASA).

American confectioners posted $36.9 billion in retail sales in 2021, with National Confectioners Association President and CEO John Downs calling it “one of the best years that this industry has experienced.”

Meanwhile, the unjustified war that Russia is waging against Ukraine and the sporadic and volatile Chinese responses to COVID-19 have severely impacted energy and fertilizer costs and continue to disrupt containerized shipping patterns, raising prices on all commercial goods. And that includes the inputs needed to plant, harvest, and refine sugar.

Despite these challenges, based on estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there will be more than 1.8 million tons of sugar on hand as of Sept. 30, with more than 3.5 million tons of sugar imports expected next year, which will start arriving in October. As harvest begins, sugar producers will soon begin refining and delivering additional sugar into the market.