U.S. sugar producers are poised to get a sweet deal.
The USDA is considering buying 400,000 tons of sugar in an aim to limit supply and boost prices so that sugar producers can pay back government loans that they’re in danger of defaulting on, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move would be an exercise of an untested provision inserted in the 2008 farm bill called the Feedstock Flexibility Program, which allows the USDA to intervene in the market to raise prices.
While the artificial price boost would benefit companies that manufacture sugar, the losers may be the makers of your favorite candies -- like Mars, Hershey and Nestle -- and that may mean higher candy prices.
The sugar industry has long benefited from controversial government subsidies, and it doesn't appear that will change anytime soon: The Senate voted down an amendment just last June that would have slowly stripped the sector of federal government aid, according to BusinessWeek. Though it’s not uncommon for the government to prop up certain commodities, the sugar subsidy functions differently than most. Instead of sending money to farmers to elevate prices -- like in the case of corn, wheat and rice -- the sugar program limits imports.
A bipartisan group of Senators, who backed the amendment, wrote in an August blog post for The Hill that by tightly controlling the sugar supply, the government is boosting prices and costing the country $3.5 billion and 20,000 jobs per year.
Candy companies, for their part, claim they often have to raise prices or slow down hiring to cope with the artificially high cost of sugar.
It could be difficult to get rid of any sugar subsidies though. Sugar makers spent more than $2 million to lobby lawmakers last year, according to data from Open Secrets cited by U.S. News and World.
Dr Donna Williams
Dr. Williams began her career in the field of dentistry at Howard University and graduated from Baltimore College Dental Surgery/University of Maryland. She is one of a select group of general dentists who have completed a fellowship in Holistic dentistry, and is also certified to use the only FDA approved laser for periodontal surgery. She is passionate about improving the health status of people throughout the community and beyond. Contact her at: Morningside Dental Care.