Candy-makers use Halloween to try to kill sugar program

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 The sugar program is authorized by the now-expired 2002 farm bill, which is up for renewal. 

Congress could pass a new farm bill in the lame-duck session of Congress after the election. If the farm bill comes up on the House floor under an open rule, opponents of the sugar program could have a chance to strike.

When the farm bill came to the Senate floor this year, 46 senators voted to end the program. That was up from 29 votes in favor in 2001. 

Given a standoff over food stamp cuts in the farm bill, lobbyists say it is more likely that a farm bill gets wrapped into a fiscal cliff deficit bill. The sugar program does not have a budgetary cost, so it is unclear if there will be a move in changing the program inside the deficit talks between Congress and the White House. 

In the House, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is the strongest defender of the program, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) its toughest opponent. 

Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.) lead the House Sugar Reform Caucus. 

“Halloween reminds us that while the sugar program is a treat for wealthy farmers who benefit from the sugar subsidies, it’s nothing but a trick for the millions of American families who pay a hidden tax on sugar every time they go to the grocery store,” said Pitts in a release. 

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have led the charge against the program in the Senate.