Pennsylvania senator, bakers rally for sugar reform

by Josh Sosland
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DENVER, PA. — Baking industry representatives were joined by Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania April 2 to advocate for the Sugar Reform Act. The event was held at a Pepperidge Farm, Inc. plant in Denver.

According to the American Bakers Association, the current U.S. sugar program subsidizes sugar growers by nearly $3.5 billion annually, imposing costs on bakers, food manufacturers and consumers.

Together with Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a Democrat, Mr. Toomey is leading a bipartisan effort to amend the federal budget to reform the sugar program.

Mr. Toomey said the Shaheen-Toomey amendment “would result in lower food prices for consumers, as well as lower costs and more jobs for Pennsylvania's confectioners.”

At the April 2 event, Kelly Johnston, vice-president of government affairs for Pepperidge parent company Campbell Soup Co., said the sugar program has global implications for U.S. food companies.

“For the past four years, the program has artificially propped up the price of sugar here in the U.S., while our competitors around the world have had access to sugar that has been between 64% and 92% lower than what we’ve paid here,” she said. “We are urging Congress to reform the program this year so it works for American manufacturers and consumers, not just one industry.”

Cory Martin, director of government relations at the A.B.A., emphasized the cost of the program on U.S. employment.

“We’ve lost over 127,000 jobs in the U.S. because of this program, while creating a competitive disadvantage for U.S. bakers and food manufacturers,” Mr. Martin said. “But, this has been a boon for Canada, which is actively marketing to bakers and confectioners to move production facilities to Canada, as Canadian manufacturers enjoy prices typically 30% to 40% lower than in the U.S.”

Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A., applauded Mr. Toomey and other cosponsors of the program.
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