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Sugar growers, NFU, CoBank back sugar program

The American Sugar Alliance, which represents cane and beet growers, praised the House Agriculture Committee farm bill for continuing the current sugar program, which it noted is operated at no cost to taxpayers. The group acknowledged that Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is expected to introduce an amendment to make changes to the program.

“Multinational food manufacturers in search of cheap ingredients and even higher profits are lobbying to have an amendment introduced during mark-up to gut no-cost sugar policy, ship U.S. sugar jobs overseas, and leave America largely dependent on subsidized foreign suppliers, said ASA President Luther Markwart.

Markwart said he is confident that those efforts will fail ,and noted that two sugar amendments brought up on the Senate floor failed and that an amendment to change sugar policy during a House Appropriations Committee markup was rejected by a 2-to-1 margin.

But the Coalition for Sugar Reform, which represents industrial sweetener users, has pointed out that the Senate floor votes were closer than in recent years.

The National Farmers Union and CoBank, which finances co-op sugar processing operations, sent letters to House Agriculture Committee leaders today endorsing the sugar title in the draft proposal and opposing any amendments.

“Weakening this policy or changing to an unproven system would undoubtedly affect our customers' ability to repay loans," CoBank said. "This could jeopardize the 142,000 U.S. jobs that sugar helps support and could send economic shockwaves through sugar-producing towns in 22 states."