May 22, 2013 1:03PM

Sugar Is Already Rationed

Seeking to draw attention to their…uh…“plight,” the U.S. sugar lobby took to Congress this week to protect their interests and defend against an amendment to the Senate farm bill that would roll back the wasteful and corrupt U.S. sugar program. But in so doing, Big Sugar has used a tactic that would be more appropriately used by their pro‐​reform opponents. According to a Congressional Quarterly article today [$],

…the American Sugar Alliance, a trade group for the sugar industry, is taking no chances. In a statement, the group said it delivered replicas of 1940s, World War II‐​era sugar rationing coupons to Senate offices.

Rationing happened because the United States was dependent on foreign sugar at the time, the group said. Changes like those proposed by Toomey and Shaheen could once again lead to a flood of imported sugar and the loss of the domestic industry, said Ryan Weston, the Sugar Alliance’s chairman. [emphasis mine]

Actually, sugar is already rationed already in this country. The USDA tightly controls the domestic supply of sugar through “marketing allotments” and sugar imports through a system of tariff‐​rate quotas. These interventions cost American sugar consumers and sugar‐​using industries billions of dollars a year through higher‐​than‐​world‐​average sugar prices. As my colleague David Boaz blogged recently, it really is a sweet deal for the sugar growers. Nothing rational (sorry) about it.