Recapping the effects of the U.S. sugar program

Tuesday, February 1, 2022
John Beghin
Yeutter Institute

The following is an excerpt of John Beghin's report originally published by the American Enterprise Institute.

Key Points

  • The U.S. sugar program relies on import quotas and limits on domestic production to ensure domestic prices for raw and refined sugar are, on average, about 100 percent higher than world prices.
  • A recent short article focuses on misleading claims by the American Sugar Alliance (ASA) about the sugar program that have been consistently debunked by a wide range of peer-reviewed studies.
  • In contrast to long-standing assertions by industry groups such as the ASA, the U.S. sugar program has been shown to cost consumers $2.4–$4 billion a year and induce losses of 17,000 to 20,000 jobs in the food processing and confectionery industries.
  • The costs the program imposes on the U.S. economy as a whole substantially exceed any benefits that accrue to the 4,000 or so farms that raise sugar beet and sugarcane, many of which also plant most of their cropland to other heavily subsidized commodities such as corn and soybeans.

Read the paper

John Beghin

John Beghin is the Mike Yanney Chair at the Yeutter Institute and an agricultural economics professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. View biography.