Washington Post Editorial Board Supports Sugar Reform


Washington — The editorial board of the Washington Post came out in support of sugar reform in an editorial published on May 13. In part, the group states, “because the program’s impact takes the form of higher prices, which means fewer jobs in sugar-using industries in the United States and bigger grocery bills for consumers. There is no free candy bar. However, in fiscal 2013, the sugar program did incur a $280 million cost to the government; prices for sugar fell below the “support price” to which government-guaranteed sugar loans were pegged. The Agriculture Department ended up with the collateral: tons and tons of sugar that it had to sell at a loss.”

The article also pointed to a full page ad from the American Sugar Alliance that ran last week in the Wall Street Journal featuring a photo of two Louisiana sugar growers and the words:“Excluding us from loans available to other crops isn’t ‘modest reform,’ it’s discriminatory. Don’t cut sugar farmers out of the Farm Bill. Oppose harmful amendments.” They described the ad messaging as casting these “business operators among the marginalized,” noting, “when most people think of discrimination in the United States, they correctly think of its victims as members of racial minorities, or women, or people with disabilities. The American Sugar Alliance, however, applies the concept more broadly.”

While the board admits the bipartisan reform legislation sponsored by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL) would not repeal “this wasteful program,” it would limit it, in particular by requiring the sugar industry to repay the government if and when the loan program operates at a loss. “This is what the American Sugar Alliance considers ‘discriminatory,’ because other commodities, such as cotton and corn, would not face a similar condition on their loans,” the article confirms.

The board ends the post with the following: “In the crazy farm-bill world of guaranteed benefits for agribusiness — sorry, a safety net for farmers — this thinking makes a perverse sort of sense, we admit. In all other ways, the notion that every agribusiness sector has a right to the same taxpayer-backed aid is pretty much as grotesque as the sugar program itself.”