WASHINGTON — The American Bakers Association on June 5 urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of an amendment to the Agriculture Food, Farm and Jobs Act, or the Senate farm bill, reforming the current U.S. sugar program.
“The current sugar program costs consumers as much as $3.5 billion a year and sacrifices 20,000 domestic manufacturing jobs annually,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A., in a letter to the Senate. “With today’s anemic job growth, it is unconscionable that Congress would continue to support a program that encourages businesses both large and small to move offshore.”
Cory Martin, senior manager of government relations at the A.B.A., said the sugar program has been a “windfall program” for sugar growers.
“While bakers have been paying record high prices for U.S. sugar, growers have been enjoying a program that subsidizes their industry by billions each year,” he said.
Mr. Martin added the Canadian government has recognized the benefits of the U.S. sugar program, referring to a brochure created by the Canadian government urging U.S. food producers to move production facilities to Canada to gain access to the world sugar market. According to the Canadian government, bakers could save 30% to 40% on sugar costs by relocating production up north.
“Why anyone would support a program that encourages companies to move production offshore is beyond me,” Mr. Martin said. “Yet, we’ve had the sugar program in place for decades, leading to the loss of over 125,000 jobs between 1997 and 2010.”
The Senate is set to begin floor deliberations of the 2012 farm bill this week, with votes possibly extending until the end of June.