Senators Wednesday spent a considerable amount of time hashing out differences regarding the federal sugar program on the Senate floor, ultimately reaching a 45-54 decision to leave the program as-is.
Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Pat Toomey, R-Penn. and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., led the charge behind an amendment to repeal the federal sugar program, which they said subsidizes sugar producers too heavily and hurts American candy manufacturers. The three Senators previously introduced similar language in a stand-alone bill earlier this year.
"Currently sugar is the only commodity program that was not reformed in the committee-passed Farm Bill," Shaheen said. "But it's particularly puzzling that [the committee] did nothing to reform the sugar program."
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The amendment pushes the sugar program back to pre-2008 policy, when Shaheen said legislative changes caused sugar prices to "soar to record highs twice the world price of sugar."
Currently, the sugar program in the U.S. limits imports to encourage higher prices for domestic sugar to combat subsidized sugar in exporting countries. However, Shaheen said while the policy is pushing prices up for farmer profit, it's also hurting consumers and manufacturing.
Her amendment to combat the issue would have ended restrictions on domestic supply and import quotas, and allow the USDA Secretary to modify import quotas as needed.