Wall Street Journal Highlights Need To Revamp Sugar Program

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New York  — The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board is urging Congress to reform the sugar policy, noting consumers lose between $2.4 and $4 billion annually because of the program and that during 2015, raw sugar prices in the U.S. ran 24.7 cents a pound, an 84 percent premium compared with global prices.

“This program is arguably the worst farm subsidy, which is saying something, featuring a menagerie of sweetened loans, restrictions on sales and import quotas for some of America’s richest people,” the editorial board wrote. “The point is to keep prices artificially high and enrich large sugar producers, who aren’t paupers but nonetheless demand this help to maintain their station. Perhaps the worst result of the program is how the effects ripple across the supply chain and kill jobs.”

Highlighting this point, The Wall Street Journal relayed Ford Gum & Machine Co., Inc. President and Owner George Stege’s assertion that he could double the company’s workforce if candymakers could access fair market prices for sugar.

“All of the others (gumball makers) have closed or gone up to Canada,” Stege said during a plant visit from Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) earlier this spring. “They leave because they can get sugar so much cheaper in Canada than we can get sugar here. We’re at a competitive disadvantage, and that’s the way the U.S. sugar program has been forever.”

Noting an amendment to the program could win with bipartisan support, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board concluded: “Republicans are struggling to get votes for their bill, in part because they have added a modest work requirement for food stamps, which eat up about 80 percent of farm bill dollars. This is a worthy policy change, but Republicans would have more credibility on reforming welfare for people if they did the same for politically powerful agribusiness.”