Loading...
BYH Charlotte City Council for taking a stand against Trump's racist rhetoric. Maybe Greenville will condemn his...

Congress must reform unfair U.S. sugar regulations

Billy Sewell

Billy Sewell

Loading…

Monday, July 9, 2018

Like so many of you, I have been a small business owner for 22 years here in our community. The opportunity to invest and create businesses that provide quality products and experiences to area residents consistently reminds me of how fortunate our family has been to continue to have the faith and support of fellow community members.

As an entrepreneur, my goal has always been to maintain the family feel to our businesses and in particular, our Golden Corral franchises that are always known to bring families together, in the community, to enjoy a wonderful meal.

As you can imagine, our group of restaurants purchases a lot of food products and ingredients. It is by virtue of this experience that I first learned about the U.S. sugar program and its impact on small businesses like ours.

The U.S. sugar program dates all the way back to the Great Depression. Today, it is a complicated maze of price supports, quotas, government guarantees, and market allocations that raise the price of domestic sugar. And if you are like me, the first time you hear "market allocations," you ask yourself, "What the heck is that?"

In short, it means the government dictates to sugar farms what they can grow, how much they can grow, and how much they can sell. The result of the program is the price of sugar produced in the U.S. today is twice as high as the global average.

Who benefits from this? Not my restaurants. Not food manufacturers. Not bakeries. Not consumers. Not any business that uses sugar as an ingredient. Only sugar processors who get a higher price for their production and are shielded from foreign competition.

In fact, most of the benefits go to 13 mega-processors in a handful of states, which have been enriching themselves for decades with government support at the expense of the rest of us. Latest estimates put the direct cost to American consumers at somewhere between $2.4 and $4 billion per year.

For businesses like mine, having to pay more than our competitors abroad is a disadvantage. It means fewer resources to invest in our operations, in our employees, and in our communities. And the plain facts are these: The U.S. uses more sugar than it produces, but the sugar program further restricts our ability to import an adequate supply of sugar, protecting mega-processors from competition. This means that while businesses like mine are getting hurt, the sugar processors are getting protections.

The good news is that our representatives in Congress have an opportunity to finally modernize this program. The Sugar Policy Modernization Act (S. 2086) introduced by bipartisan leaders will modestly reform our country's sugar policy so that the sugar shakedown baked into every food, snack, and treat we eat is no longer a problem for everyone. I am proud that Rep. Virginia Foxx from the Tarheel State was the lead champion in the U.S. House of Representatives.

And now it is time for Sens. Burr and Tillis to step up and support this legislation. This month in Congress, they will likely get that opportunity as the Farm Bill comes up for a vote. I hope Sen. Burr and Sen. Tillis build on the existing bipartisan support for this legislation; modernizing a program that has not been touched in 80 years is common sense.

More broadly, North Carolina has been my home for decades — it's a place where I want to keep growing this business. Until the U.S. sugar program is reformed, however, North Carolina’s food manufacturing small businesses and workers will continue to suffer.

It’s time for Congress to say yes to fairness, yes to competition, and yes to protecting and creating American jobs.

Billy Sewell is the owner of Platinum Corral, owning and operating 10 Golden Corral restaurants throughout the state of North Carolina.

Note: Versions of the 2018 Farm Act have been approved by the U.S. House and Senate. Differences in the two, including differences on sugar reforms, are to be reconciled later this summer, according to reports from the Washington Post.

. But the bill faces challenges when lawmakers meet later this summer to reconcile gaping differences between the House and Senate bills.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

July 23, 2019

Since being sworn in January, I have been working hard to help the people I represent in Lenoir and Pitt counties — and the biggest opportunity to do this has been through the state budget. I’ve talked with elected officials, educators, administrators, nonprofits, business owners,…

121718chrishumphrey

July 12, 2019

Over the past three years, I have had the good fortune to work on a project that has the potential to transform the farming landscape in eastern North Carolina, one that involves harnessing gas produced from hog waste.

As CEO and founder of OptimaBio, our work with Smithfield Foods to capture…

Maloney

July 01, 2019

The American system of checks and balances government does not work the way most people think it does or the way the Founding Fathers said it would.

The president serves at the pleasure of Congress, just as the prime minister of the UK serves at the pleasure of Parliament, which means that the…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 26, 2019

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for Americans to make reparations for slavery. On June 19, the House judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties held a hearing. Its stated purpose was "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the…

Walter Williams

June 10, 2019

The New York Times 

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in…

June 10, 2019

Although it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by…

john hood.jpg

June 10, 2019

We are just weeks away from the first of 20 Democratic debates scheduled this primary season. It gets underway over two nights in Miami on June 26 and 27, and never before has there been a debate this early in the election and potentially this important.

The reason there are so many candidates, 23…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 09, 2019

Gerrymandering has always been part of American politics. After all, the term was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts governor and Founding Father Elbridge Gerry endorsed a state senate district that resembled a salamander.

Until recently, federal courts have been highly reluctant to enter the…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

June 09, 2019

It is not unfair to point out that President Trump, on many important subjects, is just an ignoramus.

A vivid illustration of this unfortunate fact came this week in London, when it was revealed that Prince Charles, a knowledgeable environmentalist, had tried to educate the president on climate…

Eugene Robinson

June 09, 2019

"When you are told all your life you're dumb, unworthy, you start believing it. God changed that for me."

Jerry, from Youngstown, Tennessee, hesitated to be interviewed by Chris Arnade, because "I don't know my ABCs, so I can't really talk right." He told Arnade, the author of the new book…

kathrynlopez
166 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 17
        Next Page»   Last Page»