A Tuesday column on the Public Campaign blog blasts the Big Sugar lobbying machine for the sweetheart deal embedded in the 2013 Farm Bill that will continue subsidies to sugar conglomerates despite what writer Mike Bennett sees as the negative impact of this on small farmers, manufacturers and consumers.
Big Sugar’s victory in maintaining these deals derives from their enormous campaign contribution activity — amounts far disproportionate to the relative size of the industry. While sugar products comprise only 1% of US crop production, sugar interests represent 35% of lobbying expenditures by crop producers, totaling $8 million in 2012.
And it seems to be paying off. The U.S. House passed a farm bill last week that was stripped of food stamps, but made permanent the current sugar subsidy programs that are currently subject to regular reauthorizations. These subsides go to about 4,700 sugar producers, but to Bennett, mostly benefit a select few sugar moguls including Florida’s billionaire Fanjul brothers and their families.
This story isn’t all that unique to sugar within the agriculture industry or even more broadly — and Republicans aren’t the only ones responsible for perpetuating the lobby-drive handouts.
In fact, in 2007, the conservative Cato Institute reported on the same and implored the newly-Democratic Congress to “show that they are different” by radically changing sugar policies in a way that “could cut food costs for families and end unfair benefits for a small group of wealthy sugar barons.”
This didn’t happen under Democratic leadership.
And to Cato analysts, this continued inflation of U.S. sugar prices is directly responsible for higher food prices, lost jobs, and the outsourcing of production to other countries.