Key Vote Letter Supporting the Toomey Amendment #2433 Re Sugar Reform
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly supports Senator Toomey’s Amendment #2433, which would bring several needed reforms to the U.S. sugar program, a chronically flawed policy that creates and maintains an artificial gap between U.S. and world sugar prices.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the price of U.S. raw sugar in March was 40 percent higher than the world price of raw sugar. In 2008, Congress exacerbated an already anti-competitive program by, among other things, increasing price supports and introducing the Feedstock Flexibility Program, in which the federal government purchasessurplus sugar and sells it at a loss to ethanol plants. While the sugar program is often described as a “no-net cost” program, it in fact imposes major costs. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, for every one sugar-growing job protected, three manufacturing jobs are lost. The program also costs consumers as much as $3.5 billion a year. Further, high U.S. sugar prices have led manufacturing jobs to move abroad, harming U.S. competitiveness and increasing the trade deficit, and trade restrictions have thwarted our leverage in Trans-Pacific Partnership market-access negotiations. Disconcertingly, the 2012 Farm Bill as currently drafted would carry on the sugar program with absolutely no changes.
This sugar reform amendment would not end the sugar program, but would provide farreaching and pragmatic reforms. It would remove damaging add-ons from the 2008 farm bill such as the Feedstock Flexibility Program, import quota date restrictions, the 85% domestic allotment, and higher price supports. Moreover, it would establish market-oriented components to help spur job creation and ease the program’s burden on manufacturers, such as the ability to suspend allotments under specific circumstances, and the ability to trade import quotas with the explicit policy goal of maintaining “reasonable prices.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly supports Amendment #2433. The Chamber urges you to vote in favor of Amendment #2433 and may consider including votes on, or in relation to, Amendment #2433 in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten