National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson looked over the 2008 Farm Bill during a discussion at the International Sweetener Symposium in Colorado focusing on the need for policy makers to find ways to effectively maintain farm safety net programs in the next farm bill. Johnson says the biggest issue for the 2012 Farm Bill will be funding levels. He recommends strengthening crop insurance programs, boosting countercyclical payments, simplifying the ACRE program and expanding the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program for the 2012 Farm Bill. Johnson says the sugar program is running well and operates at little cost to taxpayers. He suggests more programs like it should be examined in the upcoming farm bill.
In a new Harris Interactive poll about U.S. sugar policy, Americans favored current sugar policy over three other policy alternatives. The other choices have been offered by food manufacturers and others looking to make a change. Only 19% of respondents chose one of the alternative policies, including an income support system like other farm commodities; a one-time buyout like tobacco policy; and elimination of the U.S. sugar program favoring imports.
The poll shows 95% of Americans believe it's important to produce food domestically instead of depending on foreign producers. American Sugar Alliance Chairman James Johnson wasn't surprised by the poll's results. Johnson says the nation is in a tough economy right now and the current policy, which doesn't cost taxpayers anything, supports 146,000 U.S. jobs and boosts the nation's food security, is projected to continue operating at no cost to taxpayers during the next 10 years. Johnson says a change in policy would either require extensive taxpayer expense or a major shift to imports - both equally unpopular.