One of the amendments to the House version of the Farm Bill that is most concerning to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway is an amendment that would virtually eliminate the safety net program for sugar. He says anytime one crop is singled out, the industry has to stand up together and fight.
“We've got to stick together as a family, Chip,” he said. “The reason farm policy has worked so well over all these years is that the production side had their fistfights among the family members, but once we got to this point, they were shoulder to shoulder to try to get this done. So if we cut off one of the one of our commodities and single them out like is being done with this one, then that does not bode well for the rest of the program moving forward.”
Conaway said the structure of the sugar safety net is unique and it needs to stay how it is because it would cost billions of dollars to bring the commodity back under Title 1. The fight on sugar is really “weird” he said.
“We've got multinational corporations, the big sugar users, out there who are pitching this as somehow they're the good guys in this and our farmers are the bad guys,” he said. “This is the absolute David and Goliath fight and Goliath looks like it's trying to win this thing and show you got sugar users who are promoting the use of sugar harvested in Africa by slave labor child labor, those kinds of things. That's just really weird.”
Conaway said that if sugar users get the amendment changes they want it will enhance their profits and pose and existential threat for sugar growers.
“If they lose the amendment, they just keep making a lot of money and the sugar [farmers] have a chance to stay in business,” he said. “We're going to fight for behalf of sugar and just like you saw me fight on behalf a cotton.”