Tuesday, 05 May 2009 12:27
Big Sugar is a collective term for the major sugar farming contenders in the Everglades Agricultural Area including large operations such as US Sugar Corp, Flo Sun, and Florida Crystals. Notorious for their environmentally un-friendly procedures, Big Sugar has become the major polluter of the Everglades region. Sugar farming and refining produces chemical refuse that is dumped into water sources making water unsafe for drinking and affecting the plant and animal life. Their strong lobbying efforts allow them to do this without having to pay for all of cleaning and purification. In fact, they leave the majority of that to the tax payers.
Adding insult to injury, the Federal Sugar Price Support Program, authorized in 1981 under the U.S. Farm Bill, does very little to stop the Florida sugar industry from polluting the Everglades. It does, however, squander tax dollars and authorizes a price-fixing scheme that is destroying America’s Everglades. The following facts about the Sugar Price Support Program are alarming and illustrate the “special treatment” that has been extended to Big Sugar.
- Allocates 70% of the federal subsidies to the Sugar Industry although it only makes up less than 1% of the total U.S. crops.
- Controls the price of sugar (currently three times the world price) through quotas.
- Guarantees profits for the Florida sugar industry.
- Costs consumers $2 Billion* a year in higher food prices.
(Source: U.S. Government Accounting Office Report)
- Costs consumers and taxpayers $2,805,800,000* annually.
- Causes inefficiency and overproduction
- Costs taxpayers $459 Million* for loan default-buy back program (rich sugar corporations borrow federal money to grow sugar cane and then default on their loans, forcing the federal government to buy the over-produced sugar)
- Costs taxpayers $16.8 Million* for storage of overproduced sugar
- Costs taxpayers $388.1+ Million* to Florida sugar companies in annual benefits and subsidies from state and federal governments
- When the Sugar Program was instituted in 1981 there were 23 sugarcane refineries in the U.S. – today there are 8, and employment in sugar refineries since 1981 has dropped 57%.
- As many as 26,500 food and beverage manufacturing jobs (such as U.S. candy plants closing) have been moved overseas since 1997 due to our elected officials' protection of the Sugar Program.
- The Sugar Program made the Florida sugar barons some of the richest and largest corporate welfare receivers in the world allowing them to give millions of dollars in campaign contributions to politicians to ensure the Program's continuation.
- In 2002 under the Bush administration the Sugar Program was increased by as much as $5 Billion for the next five years.
- The Sugar Program is responsible for the destruction of as much as 9 acres of America's Everglades every day.
*In year 2000 dollars