NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Damage Caused By Sugar Subsidies

June 18, 2001

Thanks to agricultural price supports and import quotas, sugar is America's least competitive and most heavily subsidized crop.

  • Consequently, the Agriculture Department is paying almost a million dollars a month to store almost one and a half billion pounds of surplus sugar.
  • That may not sound like a high cost as government programs go, but the General Accounting Office estimates the nation's sugar program costs American consumers almost $2 billion a year.
  • With sugar prices almost twice as high in the U.S. as on world markets, exports of American-made products containing sugar are at a competitive disadvantage.
  • The number of jobs destroyed by sugar quotas exceeds the total number of sugar farmers in the U.S., according to a Commerce Department study.

Sugar farmers collect a subsidy nearly 30 times larger per acre than what wheat farmers get.

Because the U.S. mainland does not have a natural climate for sugar production, farmers compensate by dousing the land with chemicals to artificially stimulate production. More than 500,000 acres of the Everglades have been converted from swamplands to sugar fields.

So over the years phosphorous used as a fertilizer by sugar growers leached into the water of the Everglades and helped destroy the ecosystem of the entire region.

Source: James Bovard (Future of Freedom Foundation), "Candy Mountain: It's Time to Take Sugar Producers Off Welfare Rolls," Investor's Business Daily, June 18, 2001.


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