By Ike Brannon
American sugar producers have one sweet deal. Under what’s euphemistically called the “sugar program,” they keep out foreign competitors through high tariffs, prop up domestic prices with crop allotments and backstop their risk through government-guaranteed loans. Attempts to strip Big Sugar of some of its unique protections in the recent Farm Bill were defeated by a coalition of members of Congress from the Southern states producing cane and the beet-sugar-producing states in the Midwest and West.
The sugar program, says the Department of Agriculture, supports U.S. sugar prices above comparable levels in the world market. That’s an understatement. Last year, our government spent $259 million directly to keep sugar prices high, and U.S. consumers paid an even higher tax. Between 1982 and 2012, the average price for U.S. sugar was 29 cents per pound while the price of sugar on the world market was 14 cents. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute estimates that the protectionist sugar policy cost Americans about $3 billion a year.
This article originally appeared in USA Today. Click here to read the full article.