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Sugar Users and Producers Debate US Sugar Program

Sugar producers and sweetener users at the International Sweetener Colloquium in Orlando this week sparred over the impact, success and future of the U.S. sugar program, with such debate likely to intensify as the U.S. farm bill moves closer to markup sometime this year.

Food Business News, Feb. 16, 2018

“I’m not sure sugar producers have a God-given right to stay in business,” said Bill O'Conner, a former House Agriculture Committee staff director who is with the Watkinson & Miller law firm and a consultant to the users. Mr. O’Conner added that sugar users wanted to reform the sugar program to make it more like other commodities, not eliminate it. That bill, which the users hope will be offered as an amendment to the farm bill, would continue the loan program, but make the industry pay the cost of any forfeitures. It would also eliminate the feedstock flexibility program, which allows the Agriculture secretary to sell excess sugar for use in ethanol production.

Paul Farmer, president of CSC Sugar/Sugaright LLC,

told Colloquium attendees there was a “significant lack of understanding” among various segments of the sweetener industry. He said imports of sugar-containing products with low or no duties, such as gummy bears from Turkey, undercut the U.S. sweetener industry and were the result of bad trade laws that cost manufacturing jobs in the United States.

“Our trade laws are all screwed up,” Mr. Farmer said. “We need a unified farm and trade policy. Either tax sugar-containing product imports or adjust domestic price supports. The growers and the users should share more information on their costs in order to determine what is a fair price for domestically produced sugar.”

Sugaright, the refining division of CSC Sugar, stands in solidarity with their customers, advocating for a fair deal for farmers AND food industry workers. We do Sugaright!

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