Davis / Foxx Letter on Sugar Program and Jobs

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February 14, 2018
Statements

Happy Valentine's Day!
Let's Show Some Love for American Workers This Valentine's Day
Every box of chocolate that Americans share today includes a hidden tax courtesy of the U.S. Sugar Program.
It's time for us to change it.

Dear Colleagues,

U.S. sugar policy is a complicated mess of price supports, market allocations, quotas and government guarantees that are ultimately covered by taxpayer dollars. At the same time, the program drives up consumer prices by restricting needed sugar imports even as it restricts domestic production at home, leaving the U.S. market with
constant shortfalls.

Unlike other farm programs, by design, the sugar program imposes its costs on American consumers and small businesses as a hidden tax on all products that include sugar – and when we say it subsidizes a handful of wealthy sugar processors, we are talking about a group of 13 mega-processors. That’s right. The sugar program operates at the
expense of all Americans just to benefit a group of 13 special-interest entities.

In addition to imposing additional costs on taxpayers, businesses and consumers, the program threatens the most highly coveted commodity amongst American workers:  manufacturing jobs. Our own government, the International Trade Commission, has previously attested to the fact that the sugar program kills three manufacturing jobs for every job that it sustains.  In real terms, the program killed 123,000 jobs between 1997 and 2015.  Despite this, the latest ploy by the sugar lobby is that we should simply wait to reform the program until every country in the world eliminates their domestic subsidies through a so-called “zero-for-zero” approach.  Try telling that to America’s
workers.

We’re working with our colleagues in our chamber and in the Senate – Republicans and Democrats – to stand up for American families and manufacturers through common sense legislation to modernize the sugar program. The reforms proposed by the Sugar Policy Modernization Act are modest in scope. It does not abolish the sugar program or hurt farmers, despite claims you may have heard from the other side of this issue.

Across the country, 600,000 Americans work for thousands of companies that use sugar as a key ingredient in the products they make. In our home states alone, there are more than 35,000 Illinois jobs and 13,000 North Carolina jobs that depend on these companies and their ability to compete. The companies range from large American manufacturing operations to multigenerational small businesses in cities and towns from coast to coast.

As Congress begins gearing up for the 2018 Farm Bill debate, we should commit to modernizing the sugar program to ensure it takes into account the economic interests of 300 million American consumers and the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy, not just the wealthy and connected in Washington. It’s time for government to stop playing favorites with this “can’t lose deal” for a handful of special interests and instead, do what is right for the majority of the American people.

We join together in thanking our colleagues who have supported the Sugar Policy Modernization Act (HR 4265), and urge others to consider joining as co-sponsors and help protect the jobs of 600,000 U.S. workers.

Virginia Foxx                      Danny K. Davis
(R-NC05)                           (D-IL07)

Co-chairs, Congressional Sugar Caucus