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No Valentine: Candy Companies Push False “Sugar Shortage” Story at the Expense of American Farmers

This Valentine’s Day, hardworking American farmers Neil Rockstad and Brad Lundy are setting the record straight on the false and harmful narrative that there is a ‘sugar shortage.’ Neil is a fourth-generation sugarbeet farmer, he farms with this family in Ada, Minnesota. Brad is a fourth-generation sugarcane farmer, he farms with his family in Moore Haven, Florida. Here is their op-ed that was featured in media outlets on Valentine’s Day 2024.

While Americans enjoy their candy hearts and chocolate roses, multinational candy companies are spinning wild tales of a ‘sugar shortage’ to undermine farmers like us. Consumers hearing this tale are likely to be confused to instead discover shelves well-stocked with affordable American-made sugar, as always.

As two of the more than 11,000 American sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers, we want to set the record straight: There is no sugar shortage. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), American sugar producers are setting the stage for a record-breaking 2023-2024 crop at almost 9.4 million tons of sugar.

Here are the indisputable facts from the experts about the current availability of sugar in the United States, as well as domestic sugar production data:

  • The latest USDA crop report shows that there is a plentiful supply of sugar in the U.S. for 2024. On average, USDA reports a surplus of over 3.5 billion pounds.
  • The strong 2023 U.S. sugarbeet harvest last fall sets the stage for beet sugar production to exceed 5.41 million tons – a new record.
  • Florida sugarcane farmers are currently harvesting an abundant crop due to overall favorable weather conditions and continued investments in technology and sustainable agriculture.
  • Louisiana is expected to produce 1.9 million tons despite earlier drought issues.
  • We haven’t seen shortfalls in sugar supply in America. The United States is the 5th largest producer of sugar in the world.
  • Our geographic diversity in America – and our ability to import sugar if needed – help to keep an ample sugar supply in America. We provide just-in-time delivery to our customers – which is made possible by our 90 processing and distribution facilities in 28 states and our over 70 trading partners.

Neil Rockstad, sugarbeet farmer

Brad Lundy, sugarcane farmer

We’re committed to delivering for our customers. But it’s not easy. The costs of growing sugarbeets and sugarcane have drastically increased by more than 30% since 2018, according to farm policy experts. Attacking American sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers and workers is an insult to those of us working year-round to deliver sugar to candy companies across America. Consumers want American-made sugar – in fact, a national poll shows that Americans prefer American-made sugar by a margin of 8-to-1.

So why are candy companies blaming American farmers for a sugar shortage that doesn’t exist? Prices have been higher for most grocery items over the last several years, so this has been a shell game of moving attention off the companies who raised grocery prices.

Confectioners have been bringing in record profits and aiming even higher. Instead of championing the very farmers who provide the essential ingredient to their goods, they want to dump foreign sugar into the U.S. at our expense. That undercuts domestic sugar production and risks good-paying jobs in American agriculture—mostly in small farming communities like ours.

We grow sugarbeets and sugarcane in California, Colorado, Idaho, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Workers at our farmer-, employee-, and family-owned processing facilities turn our crops into sugar for American families and businesses.

American sugarbeet and sugarcane farmers sustainably, safely, and consistently produce sugar here at home, so we don’t have to depend on foreign countries for our sugar supply. We have spent decades investing in our farms – it’s our livelihood and our legacy. We produce 14% more sugar on 8% less land than 20 years ago and increased yield per acre by 23% while using less water, less energy, and fewer agricultural inputs.

Our industry supports more than 151,000 jobs around the country in more than two dozen states, and we provide more than $23 billion each year in economic activity.

We want our customers to succeed because we need each other. But when confectioners and opponents falsely cry ‘sugar shortage’ to raise prices and push policy objections in Washington, it is dishonest to American consumers and insulting to hardworking American farmers and factory workers.

Instead of spreading fear and falsehoods this Valentine’s Day, let’s enjoy the sweet treats brought to you by American farmers, factory workers, and confectioners.

Brad Lundy is a fourth-generation sugarcane farmer. He and his family reside in Moore Haven, FL. Neil Rockstad is a fourth-generation sugarbeet farmer. Neil and his family reside in Ada, MN.


Sweet Facts
♥ Sugar creates more than 151,000 U.S. jobs in more than two dozen states and adds $23.3 billion to the U.S. economy.

♥ In January, the American Farm Bureau Federation reaffirmed its support of no-cost sugar policy in its 2024 policy resolutions. Read more here.

♥ In a single chocolate bar, sugar accounts for only 2% of the cost.



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