In the House Agriculture Committee discussion Wednesday, an amendment offered by Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to strike down the standing sugar program in the FARRM Act was voted down 10-36, much to the dismay of sugar reform supporters.
The sugar program has long been a source of debate among sugar producers, users and processors. While some say that the current sugar program drives up costs for consumers and pushes manufacturers out of the country, those on the other side of the argument say removing the sugar program would do nothing but put more money in candy company pockets.
As it stands, the sugar program employs a limit on sugar imports to encourage higher prices for domestic sugar.
Despite Wednesday's vote, the disagreement among sugar industry players hasn't ended with the consensus of the House Ag Committee.According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the program saw many changes in the 2008 Farm Bill, including the addition of a Tariff-Rate Quota, which limits the amount of sugar that can be imported at the preferential in-quota tariff rate. A provision was also added to divert excess sugar to ethanol production.
Since 2008, these measures have resulted in different impacts on manufacturers that use sugar and the farmers that grow sugar cane and sugarbeets.
The American Sugarbeet Growers Association opposed the amendment. The group says that the American economy benefits from U.S. Sugar Policy, and that it adds $21.1 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Additionally, the ASGA touts the program as a no-cost-to-taxpayers program, meaning sugar farmers aren't receiving subsidy checks.