WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to protect consumers and save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars annually, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today voted for a bipartisan initiative to phase out the controversial sugar price-support program, which artificially raises sugar prices for families and businesses.

Current U.S. sugar policy puts the American food industry at a competitive disadvantage and encourages U.S. companies to move jobs outside the United States.  The Senate Farm Bill being debated on the floor today ends some wasteful subsidies such as direct payments to farmers, but leaves the favorable policies that benefit sugar growers intact.  To change that, Reed voted for the bipartisan Shaheen-Kirk SUGAR (Stop Unfair Giveaway and Restrictions) Act amendment, which would phase out tariffs and price supports that force Americans to pay billions more for sugar each year than they would in an open market.

“U.S. consumers and taxpayers are getting a raw deal when it comes to sugar.  The government-imposed sugar quotas and other protections for the sugar industry distorts the market and forces U.S. consumers, bakers, and manufacturers to pay more for sugar than they should.   We should dissolve outdated sugar price protections and end the hidden sugar tax on U.S. consumers and manufacturers,” said Reed.

Price supports, purchase guarantees, quotas, and tariffs keep the cost of U.S. sugar artificially high, nearly twice the world price.  A 2011 study by Iowa State University estimates that ending sugar price supports would save U.S. consumers $3.5 billion a year.  The study also found that reforming U.S. sugar policy could help create as many as 20,000 additional jobs each year and help reduce the U.S. trade deficit by making the United States a net exporter of sugar.

Despite Reed’s support, the SUGAR Act amendment (#2393) was tabled by a vote of 50-46, meaning it will not be attached to the current Senate version of the Farm Bill.  However, Reed hopes the sugar measure could be revisited during future budget discussions.