Sugar Subsidies Remain in Farm Bill

Despite vociferous protests from the confectioner industry and several influential politicians, U.S. sugar programs remain in the 2012 Farm Bill.

Current U.S. sugar programs are an old, and controversial, part of American agricultural policy. Unlike most subsidies and farm aid programs which offer farmers payments and financial support, the sugar program attempts to limit sugar imports from overseas, artificially keeping sugar prices high.

The program is opposed by a strange coalition of interests ranging from major confectioners like Hershey, free-market Libertarian organizations, deficit hawks, and some liberal Democrats. In an effort to reform these policies, opponents of the sugar programs proposed an amendment that would have ended all sugar price supports by 2015 and would have reversed the ban on sugar imports.

The amendment failed in a close vote, 50-46.

Opponents of the bill continued their attack on the programs. Amendment sponsor Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) stated on the Senate floor, “This outdated program puts American companies at a competitive disadvantage, and it should go.” Sugar growers, on the other hand, rejoiced at the failure of the amendment, with a spokesperson for the American Sugar Alliance stating, “Each and every time this amendment comes up for a vote it is rejected by Congress and we wouldn’t expect any different today.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer