Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong opposition to this amendment.
Consider, the cost of sugar over the past 27 years has actually decreased, and it remains the only commodity in the country that has actually contributed toward paying off the national debt.
But as the cost of sugar has gone down, the price at grocery stores for candy manufacturers and bakery manufacturers and other sweets are charging more for their products, whose main ingredient is sugar, has increased.
Footnote right there. Why does the confectionery industry get smaller and cost more?
I don't need to sugarcoat the facts, Mr. Chairman. American consumers are getting a sweet deal on sugar. It's so cheap in the U.S., they give it away in restaurants.
Unlike other commodities, the U.S. sugar program doesn't cost the American taxpayer one dime.
Do my colleagues realize that if this amendment passes, over 146,000 jobs, 25,000 of which are in South Florida, will be in jeopardy. Congress can't turn its back on these hardworking Americans simply because candy companies in the U.S. want to pay their workers pennies in South America rather than living wages in South Florida.
Mr. MELANCON. Mr. Chairman, briefly let me just say, this issue of the candy manufacturers leaving this country has nothing to do with the price of sugar. The price of sugar has been cheap for over 25 years. They're leaving because they're getting health benefits for their people at a cheaper price in Canada and Mexico. The utilities are cheaper, and the packages that are put together for them by the international countries across the border to our north and our south are taking them away. It
has nothing to do with the price of sugar. Sugar is healthy. Sugar is better than the chemicals that people put in their food that cost a whole lot more. We're worried about energy; we're worried about food. Let's keep sugar sound in this country.
We're not energy independent. For the first time in the history of our country, 2 years ago we imported more foodstuff than we exported.
Mr. KIRK. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment. And when we had a neutral party look at this issue and the sugar program, it was the Commerce Department, and we asked the simple question, does this program cost American jobs? And the Commerce Department said 10,000 American families have lost their income because of the jobs exported overseas because of this program costing taxpayers over $1 billion a year and, really, a symbol of 19th and 20th century thinking in a 21st century
economy. So I rise in strong support of this and would like to return those jobs to the United States of America.
Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Chairman, my district has been devastated by trade agreements and other policies of past Congresses. The population of my largest city has dropped from 180,000 to 118,000. Delphi is going through a bankruptcy. My General Motors jobs have dropped from 80,000 to 18,000.
The one bright spot in my district is agriculture, led by my sugar beet farmers who own the whole process from the fields through the refinery. Don't deliver another blow to my district by in effect abolishing this no-cost program. Let my sugar farmers help the economy of my district. They are our hope. Don't dash that hope. Defeat this amendment.
Mr. PETERSON of Minnesota. Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of our time to my good friend from North Dakota (Mr. Pomeroy) who does an outstanding job representing his farmers and our sugar producers.
Mr. POMEROY. Mr. Chairman, this is a dispute about facts. I flat out absolutely reject the fact that this is costing jobs; in fact, American sugar producers, 146,000 jobs in 19 States, struggling without an increase in their market price for 22 years.
Now, this amendment would represent a loss in income averaging $294 per acre. I'm telling you, if you're a farmer trying to make those ends meet and you're taking nearly a $300 hit per acre as a result of this amendment, you are out of business.
Don't cost us these jobs. Reject this amendment.
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Chairman, I support this amendment to keep the subsidies for sugar from increasing in this bill.
The inflation of sugar prices that our misguided sugar policy drives costs U.S. families a total of almost $2 billion every year. Every time you buy chocolate or breakfast cereal or any product that contains sugar, you pay a premium, and these subsidies inflate the price of sugar for Americans to twice the world price.
The subsidies are driving businesses out of the country. A GAO study confirms that 42 percent of these subsidies, by the way, go to just 1 percent. So I urge my colleagues to put an end to these harmful handouts.
Mr. WAMP. I just want to make the quick point that every commodity, sugar, corn, soybeans, are reduced on the AGI from $2.5 million down to 1, except sugar. Why is it not reformed like the other crops in terms of how much a person can make to receive these government payments? Sugar is not only protected, it's helped through this bill instead of reformed like the other commodities.
Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Chairman, I'll use the balance of our time.
Mr. Chairman, I have here in my hand a circular from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that says this amendment, while not the administration's proposal, provides more flexibility to manage the program in a way that minimizes costs to the U.S. taxpayer than the committee's bill. [Page: H8763]
In addition, the 1 cent penalty on forfeitures will help discourage forfeitures of sugar placed under loan. This amendment also eliminates the increase in the sugar loan rate, helping to reduce cost for taxpayers.
Let's give our taxpayers a break. Support the Davis-Kirk amendment.