After four years of debate and wrangling the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law last week. Yesterday, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Congressman Danny Davis (D-Ill.-07), and Bill Kelley, Vice Chair of Jelly Belly, Inc. held a press conference to call for an end to the artificially created high prices for sugar producers through the U. S. Sugar Program.
Although the United States ranks fifth as the largest consumer of sugar in the world and fifth as the largest sugar producer; it is the most tautly controlled product in the United States. Because of the U. S. Sugar Program, conception in 1981, the United States pays nearly double the world price of sugar and has cost the American workers over 130,000 jobs in the sugar using industries.
In 2011, Sen. Kurt and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced Senate Bill 25, SUGAR Act (Stop Unfair Giveaways and Restrictions), to put an end to the program, on May 22, 2013, the Senate voted and the bill failed with a vote of 45-54, due to extensive lobbying from “big sugar” lobbyists. Congressmen Danny Davis also introduced a bill in the House of Representative in June and it also failed with a vote by 206-221.
The failure to reform the federal sugar program in the new farm bill will continue to have an impact on Illinois, not only in cost of Illinois jobs, due to candy manufacturers moving to Mexico or overseas, but it also will continue to impact consumers in their pocketbook; so far nearly $14 billion since 2008.