By LORI KRIEGER
Food manufacturing — bakers, confectioners, and retail candy shops — helps fuel our state’s economy, employing over 31,000 Texans across nearly 1,000 different businesses. But there is currently a federal sugar subsidy program that is damaging our industry. For some reason, the federal government continues to sponsor a price-inflating sugar policy that is hurting these proud businesses throughout Texas.
At Taste Elevated, we are proud to call Castroville, Texas our home. Our company has witnessed tremendous growth with the support of our family, employees and the amazing customers who have rewarded us with loyalty.
However, the U.S. sugar subsidy program holds us back, keeping us from further investing in our facility, workforce, and products. In short, the federal government, since the Great Depression, has granted U.S.-based sugar growers and processors artificial price supports while also barring the importation of sugar from other countries. This forces companies large and small to only purchase domestically-produced sugar, the price of which happens to be 50 percent higher than the world market price.
Under this rigged program, mega-processors are robbing small businesses. The implications of these propped up prices run deep. The sugar subsidy program costs U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and it costs consumers, such as those buying Easter holiday treats, more than $4 billion each year, according to the American Enterprise Institute, a highly reputable economic think tank.
Worst of all, this steep, Congress-baked price has killed 123,000 manufacturing jobs in the last 15 years, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. By forcing companies like ours to pay a manipulated and unfair price, Congress is putting Texas jobs in jeopardy.
As one of many Texas business owners doing business in a market working against me, I’m hoping that Congress can reform the sugar subsidy program. I recognize the lift won’t be easy, considering the more than $85 million spent by sugar processors since 2008 to lobby Congress to rig the system. Luckily, some members have come together to introduce a bipartisan bill to level the playing field.
The Sugar Policy Modernization Act (H.R. 4265/S.2086) does just want it hints at — it modernizes the way sugar does business by ensuring the price is fair and accurate, not propped up by market distortions and government interference. Importantly, the legislation will not put any sugar farmers out of business. If Congress were to pass this modernization, small businesses and manufacturers could begin competing fairly.
We are fortunate to have several Texas champions for reform in Congress. Notably, both Sen. Cornyn and Sen. Cruz have consistently supported reform efforts through the years, and I applaud their leadership on this issue. Today, I urge our local lawmakers, Rep. Conaway and Rep. Hurd, to join some of their Texas colleagues such as Rep. Hensarling and Rep. Gohmert in the U.S. House in also championing reform. Now is the time, and this is the year, for Congress to finally say yes to fairness and yes to protecting small businesses.