Washington — Comprised of retailers, manufacturers, trade associations, environmental advocates, taxpayer watchdog groups, think tanks and other organizations, the Alliance for Fair Sugar Policy (AFSP) launched today with the mission of advocating for modernization of the U.S. sugar program.
The Alliance notes sugar has the only commodity subsidy program to not be modernized during the past 80 years, forcing manufacturers to pay twice as much for sugar as the rest of the world. To remedy this competitive disadvantage leveled against American businesses, the AFSP strongly supports The Sugar Policy Modernization Act (H.R. 4265/S. 2086), which will establish an adequate supply of sugar based on a reasonable competitive approach that reaches from the farm to the retail shelf — without risking an appropriate safety net for farmers.
“The family farmer and the families who depend on manufacturing workers should be at the center of modernizing the sugar program,” says NCA President and CEO John Downs, AFSP co-chair. “Our modest approach is the right policy to protect and create jobs for both the family farmer and American manufacturing workers. There is a simple solution — it’s time for Congress to say yes to fairness, yes to competitiveness and yes to protecting and creating American manufacturing jobs.”
The current program offers no benefit for American consumers, according to the AFSP, which reports independent estimates show this hidden tax costs Americans between $2.4 billion and $4 billion annually.
“The sugar program is a complicated bureaucratic mess of price supports, market allocations, quotas, and government guarantees that are ultimately backstopped by taxpayer dollars,” says Sweetener Users Association President Rick Pasco, co-chair of the AFSP. “This is the time for this Congress and this administration to do the right thing for American businesses and American workers.”
NCA Vice-Chairman Kirk Vashaw, president and CEO of Spangler Candy Co., explains that sugar makes up 70 percent of ingredient costs for candy canes.
“How can a U.S. hard candy maker compete when their main cost driver is about twice as much,” Vashaw says, who notes Spangler is the only remaining candy cane maker with production in the U.S. “Job losses in the hard candy industry are real.”
In 2000, Spangler was forced to move some of its candy cane production to Mexico, “not out of greed or for labor reason, but out of necessity,” according to Vashaw. “Change the sugar program and those jobs will come back from Mexico in five years.”
For more information on the AFSP and the sugar policy reform movement, visit fairsugarpolicy.org.