Hoeven-led bipartisan effort encourages USDA to maintain robust sugar policy, supply chain

In the midst of tight supply chains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must maintain the nation’s sugar policy and ensure the sugar supply chain remains strong by rejecting requests that could undermine the status quo, said U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) and 11 of his colleagues.

“Thanks to U.S. sugar policy, our sugar supply chain remains resilient and in a strong position to address future challenges,” wrote Sen. Hoeven, who led the bipartisan contingent of lawmakers in sending a Sept. 9 letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

“It is imperative that USDA not make changes that would create a glut in the U.S. market and collapse prices below grower costs of production, which would violate the spirit of U.S. sugar policy and ultimately drive family farmers out of business,” the senators wrote.

Among the lawmakers representing sugar-producing states who joined Sen. Hoeven in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tina Smith (D-MN).

In their letter, the senators requested that Secretary Vilsack reject proposals that would weaken U.S. sugar policy and harm sugar growers; highlighted the positive economic impact created by the domestic sugar industry; and underscored that the U.S. sugar market is adequately supplied according to USDA’s own metrics. 

For example, data from the latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates projects the current sugar stocks-to-use ratio at 14.4 percent, and USDA has determined that a stocks-to-use ratio of at least 13.5 percent is adequate to supply the U.S. market, wrote the lawmakers, noting that this figure suggests that more than 1.8 million tons of sugar stocks are on hand leading into the fall sugarcane and sugar beet harvest season.  

“Accordingly, we urge you to reject requests that undermine U.S. sugar policy and our nation’s food security, while putting thousands of American jobs at risk,” Sen. Hoeven and his colleagues wrote.