U.S. beet farmers are lobbying Congress to maintain long-standing sugar protections that benefit the sugar beet industry.
Current U.S. sugar policies restrict access to foreign sugar in order to boost domestic production and consumption. Beet lobbyists recently visited Congress, pressuring politicians to maintain sugar price protections that go back decades. According to some beet farmers, “We’re not asking for any money, and we’re not asking to change anything.” In addition, sugar beet growers argue that keeping foreign sugar out of the U.S. keeps prices stable and protects nearly 150,000 jobs.
Opponents, however, maintain that sugar pricing costs U.S. consumers significant amounts of money. Limiting foreign sugar imports costs consumers and businesses over $1 billion annually, some critics claim. According to the Coalition for Sugar Reform, “Despite misleading claims that the sugar program is a ‘no-cost’ program, the reality is that current U.S. sugar policy costs consumers billions of dollars every year.”
The gathering of sugar beet lobbyists coincides with the current debates over the 2012 Farm Bill. With federal farm policy being set for the next five years, sugar beet growers are eager to preserve existing sugar policies. While the Sugar Beet Growers Association report that they have received broad statements of support from Capitol Hill, they are worried that Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have both opposed U.S. sugar policy and hope to preserve current policy sooner, rather than later.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer