A burning sugar cane field (Pic by skatoolaki, via Flickr)

The high costs of American sugar, coupled with quotas that make it near-impossible for the product to be imported, have led two congressmen to file a bill that would overhaul the way the industry does business. One of the bill’s sponsors, Danny Davis, D-Ill., tells the Independent that filing the “Free Market Sugar Act” was a no-brainer, considering the impact that sugar prices have had on his constituents.

“Chicago used to be known as the candy capital of the world,” says Davis. But sugar-using industries are having a hard time doing business in a dismal economy, especially when the cost of one of their main ingredients — sugar — is two to three times higher than the global price.

Davis and Pitts’ law would rework the Farm Bill, and help determine the level of subsidies that agricultural growers and products could receive.

“The Farm Bill is pretty much the regulator if you will,” Davis says. “That’s where the basic decisions get made.” The problem, according to many sugar-using industries, is that the bill hasn’t been regulating the industry enough.

“Many outfits have not only moved out of areas like Chicago and other industrial areas but have moved to lower-cost producing areas and even out of the country,” says Davis. “So obviously that causes the continuous outflow of jobs and work opportunities.” Davis cites shutdowns of candy companies and bakeries in his district as evidence that the sugar industry needs to change.

Pitts and Davis have also recently announced the formation of the Congressional Sugar Reform Caucus, a bipartisan group that also includes Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Jean Shaheen, D-N.H. ”The caucus is made up of individuals whose areas and congressional districts are hurt as a result of the high cost,” says Davis. “It’s not only candy — it’s any of the industries in the sugar-using environment.”

Kirk and Shaheen also recently introduced a bill, the “Stop Unfair Giveaways And Restrictions” (SUGAR) Act, which aims to end price supports for sugar.

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