The Corn Refiners Association is gearing up to take on the sugar industry.
According to a June 24 Washington Post exclusive, the Corn Refiners Association plans on investing in a lobbying effort to take apart decades-old sugar subsidies and tax breaks. The Washington Post reported that the association recently hired 10 outside lobbyists.
Although the sugar industry has historically found high ground in politics, the Corn Refiners Association is backed by some of the most powerful agribusinesses in the world. Two of its four members are Midwest-based agribusinesses giants Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill.
The other two are Ingredion Incorporated and Tate & Lyle Americas.
The Washington Post reported:
While other crop subsidies have withered, Washington’s taste for sugar has been constant. The sugar program, which has existed in various forms since the 1930s, uses an elaborate system of import quotas, price floors and taxpayer-backed loans to prop up domestic growers, which number fewer than 4,500.
Sugar’s protected status is largely explained by the sophistication and clout of a small but wealthy interest group that includes beet farmers in the Upper Midwest, cane growers in the South and the politically connected Fanjul family of Florida, who control a substantial part of the world sugar market. That mix of factors has led to an eclectic coalition on sugar’s side, from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.).
“While every other farm support program has received multiple rounds of reforms, big sugar has not been touched,” said John Bode, CEO of the Corn Refiners group.
The Corn Refiners Association connects companies that refine corn for use in other products, including marinades, canned fruits, meat products, cough drops, antibiotics, toothpaste, paper and more.
The association has remained relatively consistent in its lobbying efforts, as disclosure records show it has spent at least $10,000 lobbying in each of the last five quarters. Those records show the association has shifting its focus on the sugar industry before, as well.
In the second, third and fourth quarters of 2014, the association listed “potential trade disruption related to the U.S. sugar industry’s trade dispute against sugar imported from Mexico” among its lobbying interests.
In comparison, American Sugar Alliance spent at least $780,000 lobbying in the first quarter of 2015 alone.