Sending Office: Honorable Michael K. Simpson
The authors of the Foxx-Davis amendment recently sent a Dear Colleague advising Members that they have once again changed their amendment in order to reflect a “compromise policy”.
Far from being a compromise, the latest iteration is in many respects even worse for American sugar farmers than the first and the second.
We believe it is critically important to point out that it was not in the spirit of compromise that the Foxx-Davis amendment was modified, but rather due to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score projecting significant taxpayer
costs associated with the previous version of the Foxx-Davis amendment.
Despite the latest alterations, the newest iteration of Foxx-Davis shares a key common denominator with the two that came before it: they would bankrupt American sugar farmers.
All three versions single out sugar farmers by returning them to the safety net established back in 1985 — although costs of production for farmers have skyrocketed over the past 33 years by 158 percent.
In fact, while the previous versions of Foxx-Davis phased in these deep cuts to the safety net over several years, the new version makes the cuts immediate.
What is especially troubling about these cuts to the safety net is they are made to a loan that already costs taxpayers nothing since sugar producers repay their loans in full, principal plus interest.
These loans are critical to helping farmers begin to repay production costs after harvest and better market their sugar over time, in the same way that loans to farmers of more than 26 other crops do.
The key difference is that, for sugar farmers, the loan is their only safety net.
All by itself, this deep, immediate cut to the safety net would seriously hurt American sugar farmers because, as a farmer of any crop can tell you, a safety net built for 1985 can’t cut it in 2018.
Unfortunately, there is more to the Foxx-Davis bill.
Under current law, the Department of Agriculture is required to operate U.S. sugar policy at zero cost to the taxpayer.
This charge has been successfully carried out with the exception of 2013, the year in which Mexico was found to have illegally dumped and heavily subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market at below Mexico’s cost of production.
But, the Foxx-Davis bill would thwart the no-cost requirement in law by allowing USDA to ignore the no cost mandate if totally subjective standards are met.
Under the subjective standards, the backers of the Foxx-Davis amendment could later conveniently lobby the Department of Agriculture to gut the U.S. market with heavily subsidized, dumped foreign sugar.
There is even more to the Foxx-Davis amendment than this, but it is already plain to see that the amendment picks winners and losers.
The winners are large multinational companies who, despite reporting huge profits, think Foxx-Davis might get them a little cheaper sugar, which we know from experience they would not pass onto consumers.
And the losers are the American farmers who are returned to a 1985 safety net and the American taxpayer who gets stuck with the tab of a Foxx-Davis sugar policy that could cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
We know that proponents of this amendment like to cast it in philosophical terms. But, there is simply nothing philosophical about fleecing taxpayers or bankrupting American farmers in order to add to already big profits for food
and candy companies.
Mike Simpson Alcee Hastings
Member of Congress Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0