The U.S. sugar story is one of strength, nostalgia and adaptation. Those in the industry are familiar with this tale but explaining it to lawmakers and policy groups in Washington D.C. take a lot more effort.
With all the newly elected members of Congress this year, education of those new lawmakers on sugar issues is a top priority.
“[We’re] making sure that policy makers have a proper base from which they can make critical policy decisions in the future,” said Phillip Hayes of North Bridge Communications, a public relations firm that specializes in food and farm issues, representing the American Sugar Association. “We’ll be working hard during this first quarter to explain how sugar’s no-cost policy works, why it’s so essential to our business, and why it backs tons of good-paying U.S. jobs.”
He adds that the ASGA also plans on sharing the message of foreign subsidization of sugar and how it has harmed the global sugar market.
“It’s created an environment unfortunately where the most subsidized and often the least environmentally conscious players are too often rewarded,” he said. “We believe and we know that reform is needed on the global stage in order to create a level playing field where U.S. farmers can be rewarded by the market for their business efficiency, their sustainable production practices, and for the investments they’re making in their rural communities.
Hayes also said that lawmakers need to understand how the sugar industry rose to the occasion throughout the pandemic.
“The flexibility of the U.S. sugar industry and of no-cost sugar policy enabled us to make quick changes to protect both our workers during the pandemic and our customers during the pandemic,” said Hayes. “As the pandemic hit, sugar producers were able to shift more than 90,000 tons of sugar from bulk delivery into consumer packaging. For some perspective, that’s more than 45 million four-pound bags of sugar.”
The education effort will also allow policy makers meet U.S. sugar farmers.
“It’s no secret that not everybody in D.C. loves U.S. sugar policy; however, I have yet to find a single person who does not love U.S. sugar farmers or sugar workers,” he said. “When you talk passionately about what you do for a living and the policy that supports your job, people stand up and take notice.”