Sugar Subsidies

Sugar Welfare®™ is when you grow a nutritionally useless (and actually dangerous) crop using underpriced labor, then gas out the towns where those workers live to prepare for the next season, get the taxpayers to clean up the filth that pours off your land, all while evading actual market competition by getting legal dispensation to overcharge for a product that's harming us all and preventing natural environmental processes such as ecological water flow.

The federal sugar program is outdated and outrageous. It has created a “can’t-lose” deal for a concentrated group of 13 mega-processors sprinkled around the country – several in Florida. It is a complicated bureaucratic mess of price supports, market allocations, import quotas, and government guarantees that are ultimately covered by taxpayer dollars. It is corporate welfare, and it is killing America’s Everglades.

To be clear, Florida Crystals and US Sugar are not really in the sugar business in Florida – they’re in the sugar SUBSIDY business.

It’s time Floridians understand this taxpayer scam designed to operate as a government-sanctioned cartel.

This federal sugar program a significant source of funds for political graft and it all starts here, where just 13 sugar companies in the US share a whopping 4B in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare. Two of those companies are US Sugar and Florida Crystals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the U.S. sugar program?

The U.S. sugar program is a complicated tangle of price supports, market allotments, import quotas, and government-guaranteed loans that artificially inflate the price of sugar.

It harms America's small businesses and workers and benefits a group of 13 mega-processors. As the only commodity subsidy program that has not been modernized in 80 years, U.S. sugar program reform is long overdue.

The current sugar program keeps sugar prices artificially high in a few ways:

● Limits how much domestic sugar can be grown and sold in the U.S.
● Limits imports, even though domestic supply does not meet demand
● Maintains a floor on the price of sugar sold in the U.S.

Who benefits from the sugar program?

This outdated and outrageous program has created a "can’t-lose" deal for a group of 13 megaprocessors sprinkled around the country, including Florida. It enables them to operate at zero risk year-in and year-out, while American small businesses and manufacturers get zero access to an adequate supply of sugar at a fair price.

Why should Congress reform the U.S. sugar program?

The hidden costs of the sugar program are baked into every food, snack, and treat at no benefit to the American consumer. After 80 years of stagnant U.S. sugar subsidy policy, the U.S. is now home to some of the highest sugar prices of any major market in the world. It protects the wealthiest of the wealthy while damaging the ability of America’s businesses – big or small – to compete and create jobs.

Is it true the current sugar program operates as a "no net cost" program?

No. The U.S. sugar program is a multi-billion-dollar annual transfer from American consumers and businesses to sugar producers. It is effectively a hidden tax that costs Americans $2.4-$4 billion a year. The Heritage Foundation estimates that since 2000, Americans have paid almost $50 billion in hidden costs to support the sugar program.

What is the quantifiable impact of the U.S. sugar program on American jobs? The sugar program has cost 123,000 American jobs between 1997 and 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that for every sugar-growing job saved through high U.S. sugar prices, approximately three American manufacturing jobs are lost.

How should the program be modernized?

The Fair Sugar Policy Act — introduced with strong bipartisan support across both houses of Congress — will apply fair and sensible adjustments to the stagnant U.S. sugar subsidy policy. This broadly popular legislation — opposed by a small handful of sugar processors who have unfairly benefited from the system for 80 years — will increase competitiveness of U.S. businesses and decrease the hidden tax imposed on American families by the current U.S. sugar program.

Would sugar program reforms get rid of the safety net that sugar growers depend on?

No. Modernizing the program would not abolish it in any way, nor would it do away with the safety net growers depend on. The sugar program reform would be modest in scope, bring fairness and competition to the sugar market, and support American jobs.

MUST WATCH: John Stossel explains the corporate welfare program that is literally financing, through political contributions and outrageous graft, the destruction of the Everglades, our waterways and the livelihood of too many Floridians. Big Sugar has rigged many systems. The time has come to un-rig them.

The Federal Sugar Program Needs Reform

The sugar program is an egregious example of crony capitalism.

• The sugar program is a relic of the Great Depression and is in desperate need of reform.

• Despite numerous hearings and debate on all of the various aspects of the numerous farm bills, the federal sugar program was the only commodity program not reformed in the bill. 

• Congress’s continuation of sugar’s special status is confounding given the cuts and reforms imposed on food assistance and other commodity programs.

American consumers and taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for a program that only benefits one small, special interest group – the U.S. sugar lobby.

• To provide benefits to sugar producers, Washington imposes a hidden tax on every consumer in the nation.

• The sugar program costs American consumers and businesses an average of $3.5 billion a year.

• The program cost taxpayers $500 million between 2000 and 2001 and nearly $300 million in fiscal year 2013. From 2000 to 2020, American’s have paid 13 billionaire sugar processors (not small farmers) roughly $50 billion because of this rigged system. At the top of that list are Pepe and Alfy Fanjul of Florida Crystals.

American sugar production is one of the most protectionist sectors of the nation’s economy.

• The sugar program primarily benefits wealthy plantation owners and farmers. The benefits of the sugar program go to only 13 sugar processors and less than 5,000 sugar crop farms in a handful of states.

• U.S. sugar producers should not be in a “protected class” where they do not face market forces or have any competition.

• In trade negotiations, when the United States carves out protections for one commodity, it allows our trading partners to do the same – thereby closing potential new markets for other American farmers.

• In no other program does the federal government take so much from so many to give to so few.

The federal sugar program is designed to operate as a government-sanctioned cartel.

• Government obligations established by the sugar program have served to create a sugar cartel that is contrary to the interests of American consumers, workers and taxpayers.

• The federal government controls sugar production volumes and assigns quota for the cane and beet factions within the cartel.

• The sugar program obligates the government to buy any excess sugar and sell it at a hugely discounted price to ethanol producers.

• The combined effects of limits on domestic production and imports, industry loans and forced purchases pushes U.S. prices to nearly double what the rest of the world pays for sugar.

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