Sugar users cite C.B.O. forecast of sugar program costs

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The Coalition for Sugar Reform cited the Congressional Budget Office’s April 2014 Baseline for Farm Programs as further reason to change the U.S. sugar program.

“The sugar producers’ claim over the years that the U.S. sugar program operates at ‘no net cost’ is clearly false, as it has been for some time,” said the Coalition, which represents sugar users.

The C.B.O. forecast the sugar program will cost $629 million between fiscal year 2014 and 2024, with the biggest chunk of that, $238 million, forecast for 2014. Costs were forecast at an average of $39.1 million annually in subsequent years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture paid about $259 million for sugar industry loan forfeitures and other supports in fiscal 2013. It was the first time in nearly a decade that the U.S.D.A. had incurred costs in the sugar program.

“Even as the sugar lobby is pressing for new and unfair import limits on Mexican sugar, the industry is poised to receive taxpayer dollars every single year over the next decade,” the Coalition said. “The new C.B.O. projections underscore the need to reform a program that has created a cartel of 14 big sugar companies who are already quite profitable and whose industry is not in need of any more government handouts.”

The American Sugar Alliance, which represents U.S. sugar producers, noted U.S. confectioners had an “undeniable record of success” and posted profit margins of 12.3% in 2013, up about 11% from 2013, and called on the users’ lobbyists to “stop misleading lawmakers and journalists into believing U.S. sugar policy has caused candy companies financial harm.”
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