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A study released just last week by Promar International reveals that the extra expense to consumers and other sugar users as a result of the current policy now amounts to more than $4 billion a year. Even more hair-raising, the research determined that the calculated cost to consumers jumped to $4.2 billion in the last two years – nearly doubling – and is expected to continue at this level through 2012.
 
Today, the cost of sugar in the U.S. is nearly twice the world price of sugar. Though candy is top of mind during the Halloween season, consumers need to know the inflated cost of sugar continues to drive up the prices of many everyday foods that use sugar, from peanut butter and jelly to frozen vegetables, bread, canned fruit, juices and other products.
 
From coast to coast, our nation is losing thousands of food manufacturing jobs in communities throughout the U.S. as a result of this antiquated policy. The sugar program hurts American food businesses facing stiff competition from overseas, and has caused many of them to relocate offshore.
 
The federal sugar program benefits fewer than 5,000 sugar growers, but there are more than 600,000 U.S. jobs in food industries that use sugar – including 40,000 Pennsylvania workers and nearly 34,000 Illinois citizens employed in these industries. Another chilling fact: For every sugar growing job in the U.S. saved through artificially high U.S. sugar prices, approximately three American manufacturing jobs are lost.
 
Our bill, the Free Market Sugar Act (H.R. 1385), would open up the domestic sugar processing market and allow companies to compete by repealing the sugar price support program and marketing allotments for sugar. The proposal would also require the government to use the TRQ to ensure a robust and competitive sugar processing industry, and an adequate supply of sugar at reasonable prices in this country.
 
The Super Committee should not perpetuate this egregious subsidy, which costs consumers billions of dollars each year. Sugar policy should be thoroughly reformed in the next Farm Bill in order to protect consumers, small businesses, and workers in sugar-using industries nationwide, not by the Super Committee.
 
Congressman Pitts represent Pennsylvania’s 16th district, and Congressman Davis represents the 7th district of Illinois.