I.B.A. launches cost of sugar video to support 'sugar refund' sweepstakes

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The Independent Bakers Association (I.B.A.) has launched a new sugar refund infographic video called “Real Costs of the U.S. Sugar Program” to go along with its sweepstakes that offers a monthly consumer rebate check to “win back” what it says are the costs added to grocery prices by the sugar program.

The I.B.A. and other sugar users claim every American family pays an average of $125 a year, or a total of about $2 billion, in higher grocery prices and taxes because of the sugar program, first introduced in the 1930s, which limits domestic sugar production and imports, puts a floor under domestic sugar prices, provides guaranteed loans to sugar processors and refiners and keeps domestic sugar prices above world sugar prices.

“I.B.A. launched the Sugar Refund initiative in 2014 to raise awareness about the U.S. sugar program and its costs to consumers,” the association said. It offers a monthly sweepstakes “to give Americans a chance to win back that $125 they pay each year.”

A group of 25 I.B.A. members contributed to the new video.

The sugar program is part of the Congress-approved farm bill, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sugar users and producers are at odds over the program, with the rhetoric ratcheting up when the bill is debated for renewal every five years.

The American Sugar Alliance, which represents U.S. sugar producers in Washington, maintains the sugar program is needed to protect U.S. producers from subsidies in about 120 other countries, which keep the world price artificially low and below the cost of production in most cases. Sugar producers note that the U.S.D.A. is charged by Congress to run the sugar program at “no cost,” and that sugar has been forfeited under the loan program only once (2012 crop) in over a decade.

The domestic raw sugar price currently is around 28c a lb, basis nearby New York ICE future, about 20% above the world price of 23c a lb. Nearby domestic raw sugar futures have risen about 15% in the past year, while nearby world raw sugar futures have more than doubled.

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