Protecting workers and consumers, Shaheen said, is the reason behind the amendment. But Sen. Al Franken., D-Minn., said Shaheen's amendment would kill the sugar industry, and lose those jobs to competitors. Letting sugar producers compete against subsidized countries, he said, would also be a detriment to the industry.
"I also heard someone argue that we should just let the free market work. But did you know the Mexican government is the largest exporter of sugar? That's not much of a free market," Franken said.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, R-N.D., opponent of the amendment, further noted that Shaheen's policy would push manufacturers to outside supplies because domestic sugar prices have been the roughly the same since the 1980s.
"What product can you say that's true?" Heitkamp said. "To claim the sugar program is breaking the backs of American consumers again is not a fair or accurate statement."
More to come
Senators discussed upcoming amendments to the Farm Bill that weren't introduced Wednesday, but will likely be up for vote in the future – a proposition to allow states to label foods containing genetically modified organisms and an amendment to reduce the crop insurance premium subsidy level by 15% for farmers with adjusted gross income of over $750,000.
The amendment to adjust crop insurance subsidy premiums was discussed by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who noted that the language would save $1 billion.
Durbin cited several examples of large-scale farmers, who he said can shoulder the loss of some taxpayer-funded crop insurance subsidies.
"We shouldn't ignore the obvious. For 4% of the farmers in America, they are doing quite well. And I think – Sen. Coburn agrees – that the federal subsidy in crop insurance to those farmers should be diminished some. Instead of 62% of the premium being paid by taxpayers for the richest farmers in America, it be 47% of the premium. That's pretty generous, is it not? "
Senators will continue considering amendments to the Farm Bill tomorrow.
At a glance: Here's a listing of amendments agreed to Wednesday.
Franken #992 – Improve access to grocery delivery for homebound senior and disabled persons.
Vitter #1056 – End SNAP eligibility for convicted violent rapists, pedophiles and murderers.
Sugar Policy, SNAP Key Points of Farm Bill Debate Day Two
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