Signs on as Original Cosponsor to bill that saves consumers, taxpayers and businesses $3.5 Billion a year
Washington, DC –Yesterday, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter joined thirty-six of her colleagues in introducing the bipartisan “Sugar Reform Act.” This bill removes unnecessary sugar subsidies that have kept sugar prices too high. Sugar subsidies have hurt consumers and driven manufacturing jobs out of the United States, which is why this reform is supported by a broad array of business, consumer advocacy, and environmental groups.
“In Congress, we have a responsibility to protect taxpayers by rooting out waste in government,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “Sugar subsidies are unnecessary. We can find significant savings by eliminating programs like this one.”
Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Mark Kirk sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.
The Sugar Reform Act would:
- Repeal unnecessary trade restrictions. The 2008 Farm Bill restricted the ability of the Secretary of Agriculture to allow additional sugar imports when needed in the U.S. market. The 2008 Farm Bill required USDA to set import quotas (also known as tariff-rate quotas) at a legal minimum each year, with very limited flexibility to then respond to changing market conditions as needed. This bill would repeal these unnecessary restrictions that have further restricted supply, providing greater flexibility to those implementing the program.
- Repeal the Feedstock Flexibility Program. The 2008 Farm Bill added a $193 million program that requires the government to buy surplus sugar, and then sell that sugar to ethanol companies at a loss. This bill would save taxpayers from footing the bill for keeping prices high.
- Eliminate higher price support levels. The 2008 Farm Bill facilitated higher price supports for sugar growers. Reducing these rates would help put prices back in line with historic levels and reduce liability for taxpayers.
- Reform domestic supply restrictions to provide more flexibility to USDA. This bill would eliminate the current artificial guarantee of 85 percent of consumption and ensure that the current program is administered with sugar-using industries also in mind. In addition, the bill would restore the Secretary of Agriculture’s authority to modify or suspend these domestic marketing allotments.
- Provide flexibility to USDA in administering quotas. This bill would also give USDA more flexibility in administering the import quota system. The bill encourages greater efficiency by allowing qualifying countries to trade their quotas among themselves on a temporary and voluntary basis. In addition, the amendment establishes a target stocks-to-use ratio for USDA to ensure that implementation of the federal government’s sugar policy is transparent and consistent.
- Provide savings. The federal sugar program has cost consumers and businesses an estimated $14 billion over the last 4 years.