Over 75 agricultural and business organizations issued a statement backing Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., to call for a more market-oriented approach to sugar policy. Durbin wants sugar policy reform written into the next farm bill.
The statement was signed by a range of agriculture, government and business interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the International Dairy Foods Association, the National Grocers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola.
One of the main issues of contention around sugar policy is the effect government intervention has had on international trade deals.
"The present U.S. sugar policy - built around government-set price floors, government-enforced marketing quotas and strict limits on imports - is ill-suited for the rapidly evolving markets of the 21st century," the statement says. "The current sugar policy distorts markets, hampers trade liberalization and will become increasingly costly to taxpayers in the years ahead."
According to IDFA senior vice president Clay Hough, debate in Congress over a Central America free trade agreement "indicates that the current sugar program encourages opposition to trade liberalization. That hurts both the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, which are hoping to benefit from free trade deals."
IDFA also has a special interest in sugar policy because the dairy industry uses 12% of the cane and beet sugar used for industrial food processing in the U.S.