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The real story on American sugar subsidies

The July 9 letter by a group of food executives attacking Maryland's sugar industry ("Farm bill must include reform to sugar subsidies") is both disingenuous and full of misinformation. Here's the full story.

Food makers have poured millions into a lobbying campaign to outsource Baltimore sugar jobs to Brazil and Mexico — countries known for subsidies, poor worker rights and environmental atrocities.

Unfortunately, cheap political shots have become commonplace in their quest for subsidized foreign sugar. For example, these companies complain about "high" U.S. sugar prices even though sugar prices have plummeted 50 percent in two years, and sugar costs less today than it did in the 1980s.

The same cannot be said for candy and other sweet treats. In fact, candy bars are four times more expensive today than 30 years ago, and prices are steadily climbing. By simultaneously increasing consumer prices while pocketing cheaper sugar costs, confectioners have achieved higher profit margins than even major oil companies.

Luckily, their lobbying efforts to squeeze out even more profits at the expense of U.S. consumers and workers have, so far, been thwarted. The United States Congress has voted four times since last June to reject attempts to make America more dependent on subsidized foreign sugar.

Most of Maryland's delegation has consistently backed the current U.S. sugar policy, which remains the least expensive of all major farm policies and has helped keep 2,600 sugar jobs in Maryland.

On behalf of Baltimore workers, "Thank you."

Stuart J. FitzGibbon, Baltimore

The writer is refinery manager at American Sugar Refining, Inc.

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