(Chuck Muth) – Labor Day 2016 has come and gone, Congress is back in session and critics of the U.S. sugar program are in high dudgeon. The more things change…
Let’s start this week with a report from Crop Protection News which notes that “the average price of a chocolate bar has risen 77 cents” over the past ten years. This, despite the fact that the cost of sugar is about the same now as it was some 30 years ago.
Yet candy companies complain that it’s the “high” cost of sugar that’s driving them to move manufacturing operations to third-world countries. Sorry, but that’s Baghdad Bob-level propaganda that totally ignores reality.
At the same time, sugar program critics continue to refuse to even acknowledge how foreign governments manipulate and distort the cost of global market sugar. For the latest example, let’s turn not to sugar giants Brazil, India or Thailand, but…Nigeria.
“Nigeria is the largest consumer of sugar in Africa after South Africa,” reports Nigeria Today, “but the industry is still dependent on raw sugar imports.” In fact, according to the article Nigeria imports 98 percent of the approximately 1.7 tons of sugar its citizens consume.
The article notes the Nigerian government’s “interventions through incentives to create an enabling environment for investors such as zero per cent duty on machinery and spare parts by companies, as well as 10 per cent import duty and 50 per cent levy on imported raw sugar” in an effort to spur its domestic industry.
Sotonye Anga, an official involved in developing a sugar master plan for Nigeria, says the nation must “deliberately boost our local production” so as to stop sugar importation completely.
Anga predicts that once Nigerian sugar farmers “have a guaranteed market,” that will boost local production which, he hopes, will eventually mean “we have enough sugar product for local consumption and we have enough to export across Africa and other places.”
Using government subsidies to artificially transform a nation that currently imports 98 percent of its sugar into a sugar exporter?
How can U.S. sugar program critics turn a blind eye to such government manipulations and think it’s appropriate for American sugar farmers, who enjoy no such subsidies, to be universally disarmed and then compete fairly in such a global market?
The only viable and reasonable sugar program reform is Congressman Ted Yoho’s zero-for-zero resolution essentially telling our foreign competitors that we’ll get rid of our sugar protections when you get rid of your sugar subsidies. So let it be written; so let it be done.