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Louisiana Sugar Producers Praise Reintroduction of Zero-for-Zero Legislation

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St. Mary Sugar Co-op

The American Sugar Cane League, which represents the Louisiana sugarcane industry, wholeheartedly supports "zero-for-zero” legislation to reform and replace the current no-cost sugar policy.

Louisiana congressional representatives Garret Graves (R) of Baton Rouge and Clay Higgins (R) of Lafayette have signed on as co-sponsors of Representative Ted Yoho's (R-FL) original zero-for-zero measure. Yoho re-introduced the bill in the 116th Congress which began its session January 3, 2019.

Photo: St. Mary Sugar Co-Op in Jeanerette is one of 11 raw sugar factories in Louisiana. Louisiana's sugar mills produced 1.8 million tons of raw sugar (raw value) in 2018. Photo by Sam Irwin, ASCL Public Relations Director

The zero-for-zero policy proposes reforms to America’s current no-cost sugar policy in exchange for the verified elimination of foreign sugar subsidies.

Foreign government interference in their sugar industries distorts the international market and artificially keeps global sugar prices lower than half the average cost of production. Brazil, India, Thailand, Europe and Mexico are large sugar producers and dump their excess product at rock bottom prices on the world market.

The billions spent by foreign nations stand in stark contrast to America’s sugar policy, which cost taxpayers $0 because it’s based on loans that are repaid with interest.

"The sugarcane farmers in St. Martin Parish and the rest of Louisiana are extremely efficient, but how do we compete with Brazil’s national treasury,” asked Michael Melancon, a farmer from Henderson. "You can’t have a true free-market sugar trade unless unfair subsidies are eliminated. The zero-for-zero is an alternative.”

Melancon’s family has been farming in St. Martin for three generations and is proud of his family’s accomplishment over the last 50 years. He is very concerned about the low international dump market sugar prices and how foreign governments promote overproduction.

"Right now, our no-cost sugar policy gives us a fighting chance to survive,” he said. "I’m glad Congressman Higgins signed on to Yoho’s plan. It’s common-sense legislation that says we’re not afraid to compete.”

However, unilaterally eliminating the current U.S. sugar policy without concessions from other nations would collapse the domestic sugar market, endanger 142,000 industry jobs and put consumers at risk of dependency on a foreign sugar supply.

Melancon, a member of the American Sugar Cane League, is 100 percent in favor of zero-for-zero.

In addition to Yoho, Higgins and Graves, Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Walter Jones (R-NC), Paul Mitchell (R-MI) and Alex Mooney (R-WV) are original co-sponsors of the bill.

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The American Sugar Cane League of the U.S.A., Inc. is a non-profit organization of Louisiana sugarcane growers and processors. It is dedicated to supporting the Louisiana sugar industry through research, legislation, product promotion, education and public relations. Go to LaCane.org for more news about Louisiana's sugarcane industry.

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