TC PALM: Sugar policy due for reform

TC Palm: Written by Treasure Coast Editorial Board. APRIL 12, 2018.

You spy that bag of M&Ms in the checkout line and you're tempted. But $1.79 seems kind of steep.

In fact, it is. Most food containing American-grown sugar costs significantly more than it would if sugar prices were lower.

But sugar prices are inflated by design, a result of a federal program originally passed in 1934 to protect sugar growers from foreign competition.

For the domestic sugar industry, it's been a sweet deal indeed.

But a growing bipartisan coalition has soured on sugar policy, and might be on the cusp of forcing significant changes.

An unlikely alliance of Democrats and Republicans, free-market advocates and environmentalists, small businesses, retailers and food manufacturers are backing the Sugar Policy Modernization Act, which promises to roll back artificially high U.S. sugar prices by reforming price supports.

U.S. sugar policy is protectionist, anchored in government intervention in the free market. The government sets minimum sugar prices and provides loans to sugar farmers, permitting them to repay those loans with raw sugar if prices fall below the legal floor.

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