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Sugar policy sours candy makers’ outlook

Candy makers think the American sugar industry has too sweet a deal, and they’re fighting to change U.S. farm policies that they say have pushed up the price of sugar.

“This is basically a welfare program for a small number of folks who grow sugar,” said Michael Rosenberg, CEO of Promotion in Motion, a New Jersey company that makes candy and other snacks. Rosenberg is part of the Coalition for Sugar Reform, an alliance of confectioners, bakeries, food companies, and consumer and business groups that has fought federal sugar policies, including import quotas, minimum prices and limits on sugar production. The coalition says these policies add $3.5 billion annually to Americans’ food bills.

The candy makers’ efforts faced a setback last week when the House of Representatives voted down an amendment to the farm bill that would change the sugar policy. The vote was applauded by U.S. sugar producers who say they need protection from heavily subsidized foreign sugar companies, especially in Brazil and Mexico, that can dump cheap sugar on the U.S. market.