U.S. calls for zeroing out foreign sugar subsidies

“The most volatile commodity market in the world.”

That’s how a new resolution introduced in the House describes the state of today’s world sugar market, and the numbers speak for themselves. Brazil provides direct and indirect subsidies of at least $2.5 billion/year; India provides at least $1.7 billion/year in subsidy supports for its sugar industry, and Thailand has more than tripled its sugar exports since 2004 with $1.3 billion/year in subsidies and government price-fixing. Add that on to subsidies from countries including Russia and Mexico and it’s clear that the playing field isn’t exactly level. That’s why U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Kat Cammack (R-FL) introduced their resolution this week, calling on the president to “seek elimination of all direct and indirect subsidies benefiting the production or export of sugar” from foreign countries.

If that were to happen, the resolution calls for putting reforms in place for U.S. sugar policy, referred to as a “zero for zero” approach, which is widely supported by Michigan’s sugarbeets farmers. “American sugar farmers are the best in the world, and they want to be able to compete fairly to sell their products. Unfortunately, other countries like Brazil, Thailand and India have unfair sugar subsidies and regularly dump their surplus sugar on the world market, posing a constant threat to American family farms,” Kildee said.

“That’s why we need an American sugar program to support our farmers. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan resolution to combat unfair trade practices and protect American farmers.” According to the American Sugar Alliance, the U.S. is the fifth largest producer, and third largest importer and sugar market in the world. “Michigan’s sugar beet growers can compete with any sugar growers across the world if there’s a level playing field. Many of our competitors are unfairly subsidized by governments, making it hard to compete,” said Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski, who grows sugarbeets in Tuscola county. “Michigan Farm Bureau applauds Congressman Dan Kildee for standing with Michigan’s sugar beet growers on this important policy, and we urge Congress to move quickly on Kildee’s proposal.”