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Warner, Kaine sponsor sugar reform bill to cut costs, protect jobs in Virginia

mark warner tim kaineU.S. Sens. Mark R.  Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a bipartisan coalition of 16 Senators to introduce the SugarPolicy Modernization Act, which will make commonsense reforms to the federal sugar support program that will save money for a variety of manufacturers that support jobs in Virginia and across the nation.

The Sugar Policy Modernization Act would repeal domestic supply restrictions, reduce market distortions caused by sugar import quotas, and ensure taxpayers don’t foot the bill for bailouts of the sugar industry. The Sugar Policy Modernization Act has a broad coalition of support from consumer, business and environmental groups. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Virginia is home to the U.S. headquarters of both Mars and Nestle and has manufacturing and distribution facilities across the state – such as the McKee Foods plant in Stuarts Draft, Nestle packaging plant in Danville, Purina pet food plant in King William County, Frito-Lay plant in Lynchburg, Gatorade bottling facility in Wytheville, Sabra plant in Colonial Heights, and others – comprising thousands of jobs in industries whose growth is determined in part by sugar prices.

“This bill would make reasonable, commonsense reforms to federal sugar policies that artificially raise costs for consumers and American taxpayers,” said Sen. Warner. “These changes will save taxpayers money and protect thousands of manufacturing jobs in Virginia.”

“Senators from the right, left, and everywhere in between support this bill because it’s good for the economy,” said Sen. Kaine.“Manufacturing is driven by a variety of input costs, and this is an opportunity to reduce one of those costs, which is not only good policy generally but will also make Virginia even more competitive in attracting these manufacturing plants and the jobs that go with them.”

Sugar is the only commodity whose federal support program was not reformed by the most recent five-year reauthorization of agricultural programs in 2014.

         

The Sugar Policy Modernization Act would repeal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sugar marketing allotments, which restrict the amount of sugar each domestic processing company can sell. No other U.S. commodity is under similar government supply controls. The bill would also repeal a program that requires the government to buy surplus sugar and sell it to ethanol companies at a loss.

The legislation would also direct the Secretary of Agriculture to manage the nation’s sugar program to ensure sugar is distributed in adequate amounts and reasonable prices, and it would repeal laws that arbitrarily restrict USDA’s authority to administer import quotas during certain times of the year. This bill would also express that it is the sense of Congress that U.S. trade policy goals should include elimination of sugar subsidies and pursuit of trade agreements that liberalize sugar trade.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the bill is sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Ed Markey (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

 
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