Over the last couple of days, we’ve been writing and doing videos about the state of the environment here in South West Florida, due to Red Tide and Blue/green algae. And with each article we’ve done, we’ve reminded you that Big Sugar shares part of the blame, “And even though they deny that the Red Tide is fed by green algae that originates from land-based, human activities, peer-reviewed, published research proves this fact.” 1
“The NRA gets most of the attention these days. But few industries have more power over politicians from both parties than Big Sugar (my emphasis).
For years, sugar interests have plied Florida politicians with money, favors — even secretive trips to a private hunting lodge in Texas. And it has paid off nicely.
In return for the largesse at both the Congressional and state level, the politicians give sugar what it wants … with your money.”2
Money, money, money. And we aren’t talking about a little bit. No, we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars in federal subsidies and price supports. And where does that money come from? Tax dollars, first. Then, our grocery bills “since they drive up the price of everything from soup and soda to spaghetti sauce and cereal.”3 Then, once they’ve nearly ruined the environment, we pay again for them to clean it up.
However, “A bipartisan coalition of more than 70 members of Congress has united to support the ‘Sugar Policy Modernization Act,’”4 which calls for “The elimination of all direct and indirect subsidies benefiting the production or export of sugar by any government.”5 And get this, U.S. representatives from 23 different states have signed on, but NONE FROM FLORIDA. From either party. Which makes sense if you remember that Florida politicians stand to lose a lot should the bill pass:6
- Republican Marco Rubio received the most sugar money of anyone in the U.S. Senate in 2016, according to the Center for Responsible Politics.
- Democrat Bill Nelson is the leading recipient so far this year.
- Sugar execs are bedfellows with both the Clintons and the Bushes.
- Gov. Rick Scott has taken more than $600,000 from sugar interests through the years, including money raised during a fundraiser personally hosted by Florida Crystals exec Pepe Fanjul.
Big Sugar argues that their subsidies aren’t technically subsidies because they don’t just give tax dollars directly to the sugar companies, rather “the federal government provides loans, price guarantees, import restrictions and promises to buy surplus product.”7 And in a free market, there’s nothing wrong with that because it supports industries that can’t compete independently in the global marketplace.
So why doesn’t the government do this for all industries?
“U.S. policies specifically help sugar (which outspends the other major crop industries combined when it comes to PAC money) — and primarily a handful of sugar companies at that.”8
As Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel said, “Standing up to sugar may not be good for fundraising. But it’s sound policy for consumers and Florida’s environment … as leaders in other states already know.”9
We couldn’t agree more.