In 1992, as Bill Clinton was running for President, his campaign manager, James Carville posted a sign in the campaign headquarters. “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Republicans love “free trade,” but someone needs to put a sign in front of them that says, “It’s the subsidies, stupid.” Free trade isn’t free trade when one of the traders is massively subsidizing products. Free trade becomes bad trade.
The poster child for bad trade is the sugar industry. According to Dr. Darren Hudson, the Director of the International Center for Agricultural Competitiveness at Texas Tech University, over one hundred countries produce sugar and every one of them subsidizes sugar.
Everyone, except the United States, which does not dole out subsidy checks to farmers.
The United States does not export sugar, but it imports it. And that causes problems for America’s farmers. Currently, sugar prices on the world market are at less than half the cost of production. In plain English, if it takes $100 to produce a ton of sugar, a farmer can only sell it for $50. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could figure out that farmers cannot stay in business with those kind of prices.
With subsidies, the surplus of sugar continues to grow.
With subsidies, farmers around the globe, including American farmers, continue to suffer.
The United States is currently engaged in trade negotiations with China, Mexico, the EU, and Japan. All of these countries subsidize their sugar production. Trade negotiations typically result in convoluted trade agreements that are anything but “free.” The best trade agreement that the United States could make would be a trade agreement that eliminates these foreign subsidies on sugar, that distort the free market and end up hurting American farmers.
Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) has introduced a bill that is called “Zero for Zero.” Zero for Zero is a great and simple idea. The United States will drop trade barriers on sugar provided other countries agree to drop their subsidies. This would allow the free market to work and would protect American farmers against unfair trade subsidies.
President Trump made “Make America Great Again” the theme of his campaign and his time in office. President Trump must help make American farmers great again by supporting an end to the unfair subsidies other nations give their sugar producers.