Tampa Bay News: Written by the Editorial Board. May 14, 2018.
Longstanding U.S. sugar policy pummels consumers and taxpayers in three ways: We subsidize growers, pay higher food prices and then pay even more for environmental damage sugar production causes in South Florida. The only winners are Big Sugar and the politicians who rake in its campaign cash. With a new farm bill coming up in Congress, now is the time to reset the board on sugar policy to allow market forces to set sugar prices and bring relief to Floridians who are paying dearly for this sweet deal.
An amendment to the new farm bill, the Sugar Policy Modernization Act, would reform price supports that keep domestic sugar prices artificially high. Studies show that American-grown sugar costs up to twice as much as other countries’ sugar. The outdated policy also limits the amount of sugar that can be imported, slaps a tariff on imports that exceed certain quotas and requires the Agriculture Department to buy back excess sugar to prevent prices from plummeting. It’s a formula that guarantees perpetual profits for U.S. growers by pick-pocketing U.S. consumers.
Floridians are robbed even more. The two main growers in Florida, U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals, are responsible for millions of gallons of phosphorous used on their farms annually running downstream and causing enormous harm to the Everglades. Guess who pays to clean it up. And don’t forget the green algae that befouled beaches on both Florida coasts during the summer of 2016. That polluted water came from Lake Okeechobee and should have filtered south as nature intended — through sugarland. Instead, it was diverted to the east and west, creating a neon green nightmare for tourism-reliant businesses.
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