Louisiana’s sugarcane farmers and millers found it hard to take national political commentator George Will’s “Sugar protectionism may sour holidays” column seriously.
Will recently published his “sour holidays” in the Washington Post, Baton Rouge Advocate and other major newspapers. In it, Will puts forth the idea that some candy manufacturers may not be able to fill Halloween candy orders because a reliable source of sugar could not be found.
By Jim Simon
Director, American Sugar Cane League
That’s simply not true. Perhaps some candy companies will not be able to fill Halloween orders because of labor shortages, broken machinery, etc. but it won’t be because of a lack of readily available domestic sugar supply.
The Post refused to publish the American Sugar Alliance’s response to Will’s screed but the Advocate family of newspapers printed the Louisiana-based American Sugar Cane League’s response which is replicated here for Louisiana Farm and Ranch.
Will invokes a scary image of candy rationing for American trick-or-treaters and Christmas angels. In Will’s world, candy makers believe the Grinch is hardworking sugarcane farmers and Congressional members who have steadfastly kept the Farm Bill safety net strong for United States agricultural production.
If Congress took Will’s advice and relied on foreign suppliers for sugar, what might happen? A flood of subsidized and dumped foreign sugar would collapse the U.S. market and drive U.S. farmers out of sugar production. Mills and refiners in America’s heartland would stand idle as our farmers struggled to find alternative crops to keep their own farms going. Many will fail. U.S. companies would lose the security of a robust domestic sugar industry providing just-in-time delivery of sugar when and where they need it. Instead, U.S. companies would soon depend on foreign suppliers to produce and ship enough surplus sugar to cover U.S. needs at whatever price they choose. Given today’s global challenges, it’s worth remembering that the U.S. government was forced to order sugar rationing during World War II because our enemies cut off our supply lines to foreign suppliers of sugar. Sugar was the first commodity to go on the ration list and, at the war’s end, was the last commodity to be removed from that list.
Louisiana’s farmers, among the most productive in the world, meet some of the highest labor and environmental standards around. That means more choice and more affordable food products for American households. Despite double digit food inflation this past year, American households spend less of their disposable income on food than any other industrialized country. And the breadth of food choice available to American consumers is unmatched anywhere else in the world.
Sugar production in the U.S. is up, yields are higher, and the supply chain is strong. Candy makers may experience uncertain overseas supply chains for food ingredients like foreign-sourced cocoa or machine parts for factories, but the current sugar program ensures a stable and reliable supply of sugar for our customers. Globally, sugar supplies are tight which might affect food companies overseas, but, within the United States, there are plenty of sugar supplies with carry-over stocks exceeding 3.5 billion pounds of sugar.
Moms and Dads, don’t worry. Louisiana’s sugar producers will ensure there is plenty of sugar around for the holiday season this year.