US bakers call for reform on sugar policy22 September 2012
US bakers are on a collision course with sugar producers after the American Bakers Association (ABA) said that egislative change to ease artificially high sugar prices is imminent.
The ABA claims that sugar prices are artificially inflated to 50-75% higher than in Europe.
ABA members Bimbo Bakeries USA, Flowers Foods and Krispy Kreme recently met with Congress members to make the case for reform of the US sugar programme. According to the ABA, the programme inflates the price of sugar by setting quotas, enforces a minimum price, limiting how much US sugar processors can sell and forcing the US Department of Agriculture to buy surpluses for sale to ethanol refineries.
However, sugar producers hit back against the lobby, arguing that the US should be wary of lessons learned from similar action in Europe and not attempt to reform a system that generally works.
Proposed action on sugar prices failed to become legislation in the summer after being rejected in the Senate and House of Representatives’ revisions to the US Farm Bill. However, ABA said that political will for reform is gathering.
“There are many supporters of reforming the sugar program in both the House and the Senate. This is the most pressure Congress has ever faced to reform the programme,” Cory Martin, the ABA’s government relations director told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We always knew getting an amendment (to sugar policy) passed in the Agriculture Committee hearings would be an uphill climb, so losing these votes was not unexpected.
“We came very, very close in the Senate, losing one vote by just 4 votes and we are confident that some form of a reform amendment will pass in the House, if and when it ever comes up for a full floor vote. We’ve been able to garner bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate,” added Martin.
The American Sugar Association refuted the claims, arguing that the food industry pays less for sugar than in other developed nations.
“Big Candy has quietly gotten rich on the backs of farmers and American workers. Now they’re lobbying Congress to bankrupt farms and outsource sugar jobs so they can pocket a few extra pennies a pound,” said a statement.
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