Federal Sugar Program enforces the status quo

A major reason the Florida sugar industry has not updated their practices is that the Federal Sugar Program provides no incentive to do so. This sweet deal gives quotas and price protections to major domestic producers each year to keep US sugar producers in the money. Rather than invest in innovative farming practices, their focus is on reducing their overhead costs as much as possible and using their windfall profits of millions of dollars guaranteed annually through the Federal sugar program to disproportionately impact our state and federal elections so they can maintain their sweet deal and avoid any regulatory action.

This system incentivizes the status quo rather than innovation. In fact the Florida sugar industry has a long history of resistance to change and innovation. It was not until the mid 90’s that the Florida sugar industry shifted fully from manual cutting to mechanical harvesting. This change came long after the most developed sugarcane growing nations and other sugarcane growing states in the US had already shifted to mechanical harvesting. Louisiana sugar growers began mechanically harvesting in the 1940s. The Florida industry gave familiar arguments that mechanical harvesting was not suited to Florida’s soils. Once the exploitative labor practices towards H2 visa workers from the Carribean became known, leading to a costly lawsuit for the Florida industry, the decision was made to transition fully to the more cost effective mechanical harvesting.

"Big Sugar isn’t in the sugar business, they’re in the subsidy business. Given the choice to buy another tractor or 5 more lobbyists, they will choose the lobbyists every time."

- David Guest, Attorney