CHICAGO - U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, and Illinois Congressman Danny Davis, along with Bill Kelley, Vice Chair of Jelly Belly, Inc. held a press conference over the weekend to call for an end of the U.S. Sugar Program that artificially creates high prices for sugar producers at the expense of consumers and Illinois-based candy manufacturers. The U.S. Sugar Program sets prices and limits exports, which has doubled the cost of domestic sugar compared to global prices.
Sen. Kirk and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation in the Senate to end the program, but the effort was tossed out of the recently passed Farm Bill due to extensive lobbying from "Big Sugar."
"For decades, Chicago has been known as the 'candy capital' of the world, but that status is in jeopardy because of the federal Sugar Program," Senator Kirk said. "More than 130,000 American jobs have been lost over the past 15 years to countries like Brazil because of artificially high domestic sugar prices. It's time that we end this program that has cost American consumers nearly $14 billion since 2008."
Congressman Davis is leading a similar effort in the U.S. House of Representatives. He blames sugar subsidies for high sugar prices that has pushed candy factories out of his Chicago-based congressional district.
"In 1987 Brach's, located in the 7th Congressional District, was Chicago's sixth-largest manufacturer, with 4,000 workers," Congressman Davis said. "The average worker spent 27 years in a Brach's plant. Largely due to the sugar subsidy those jobs, those careers, are gone now and the old Brach's factory in the industrial park on Chicago's Westside which once employed over 1,000 workers is a wasteland. The continuation of the sugar program today puts 600,000 American manufacturing jobs at unnecessary risk while the cost to taxpayers has skyrocketed and will continue to grow."
Candy and confectionery companies employ more than 7,000 people in Illinois. Jelly Belly, Ferrara Pan, Mars, Nestle and Tootsie Roll are just some of the nationwide household names with factories in the state.