“Free” Sugar Protectionism Is Not As Sweet As It Sounds

“Free” Sugar Protectionism Is Not As Sweet As It Sounds

The Department of Justice recently sued to stop a merger of two sugar companies to help preserve industry competition. Since consumers’ main interest in competition is to produce higher outputs and lower prices, the government’s stated rationale is inconsistent with the damage its long-maintained sugar policy has imposed on both producers and consumers.

Since the Sugar Act of 1937, domestic sugar producers have profited from production controls and stringent sugar import limits, creating a government-enforced cartel substantially boosting prices to American users. As reported by Alden Abbott and Andrew Mercado, sugar that now costs 19 cents a pound outside America costs us 37 cents a pound, with the differential sometimes exceeding a factor of three. 

As with all protectionism beneficiaries, the sugar lobby employed all manner of bogus arguments to defend it (aptly characterized by William…

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