WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of 40 representatives and senators on Sept. 26 introduced the “Fair Sugar Policy Act of 2019” into the House (H.R. 4521) and the Senate (S.2568) seeking to amend language of the farm bill’s sugar program. Among other things, the bill directs the secretary of agriculture adjust tariff-rate quotas to maintain a 15.5% ending stocks-to-use ratio rather than 13.5%, which currently is seen as the minimum to maintain adequate sugar supply at a reasonable rate.

The Independent Bakers Association (I.B.A.), commended introduction of the legislation, which it said “renews the ongoing demand for reform of the outdated federal sugar loan program.” The I.B.A., which is a member of the Alliance for Fair Sugar Policy, said it would work with other Alliance members to encourage more lawmakers to join the “fight” for sugar reform.

“There is one single commodity program that has not been reformed in over 80 years, and it’s the U.S. sugar program,” said Representative Virginia Fox, ranking republican on the House Education and Workforce Committee, who led the House bill.

The Sweetener Users Association also applauded the legislation. The S.U.A. said the bill “would modernize the U.S. sugar program by eliminating marketing allotments that are unique to sugar production; providing more flexibility to the U.S.D.A. to ensure an adequate sugar supply to the domestic market; eliminating unnecessary trade restrictions; providing for the temporary transfer of unused import quotas to other countries with import quotas; and repealing the Feedstock Flexibility Program, among other updates.”

Rick Pasco, president of the S.U.A., said, “American food and beverage manufacturers applaud the Fair Sugar Policy Act for the commonsense reform it would bring to the outdated and unnecessarily costly U.S. sugar program. We are grateful to Senators Shaheen and Toomey and Representatives Fox and Davis for their continued leadership on efforts to provide relief to the millions of Americans who enjoy sugar-using products — as well as the U.S. manufacturers and their employees who make them.”

The House version of the bill had 25 bipartisan cosigners while the Senate version had 15 cosigners, with more expected to join.

Similar legislation has been introduced several times in recent years in efforts to amend the sugar program. All have been opposed by sugar producers and none have passed, with producers contending the sugar program is necessary to protect U.S. sugar producers from subsidized and artificially low world sugar prices, as well as to protect jobs in the sugar industry among other reasons.