A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Nov. 7, introduced the “Sugar Policy Modernization Act,” in the House and Senate, which would overhaul the U.S. sugar program.
Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are proposing the measure to limit domestic supply restrictions and reduce market distortions.
“What that (bill) would do, would essentially tear the safety net out from underneath sugar growers and sugar beet growers,” said Luther Markwart, executive vice president of the American Sugar Beet Growers. “This bill would essentially put us into bankruptcy.”
Unlike foreign sugar industries, U.S. producers do not receive subsidy checks. Instead, producers get loans to help cash-flow operations while sugar is stored for customers. Because loans are repaid with interest, sugar policy has operated without taxpayer cost in the 2014 Farm Bill.
Sugar producers would lose access to nonrecourse loans under the proposal and the bill would also force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to maintain an oversupplied sugar market and keep prices depressed with imports.
“So, we are now trying to educate members of congress that without the current policy we are not going to survive,” Markwart said.