The United States might be on the cusp of its sweetest bailout since banks and automakers scored federal dollars during the Great Recession. The Department of Agriculture could buy up to 400,000 tons of sugar from beleaguered producers, who have seen prices fall 18 per cent in the past five months after a bumper crop of sugar beets and cane, reports the Wall Street Journal. The bailout, which could come next month, would help processors avoid defaulting on government-funded loans worth $862 million—good news for the producers, but bad news for candy-makers and sweet-toothed consumers. Propping up prices for producers could mean more expensive trips to the supermarket.
Americans aren’t alone in protecting their sugar processors. Canada, like most other countries, slaps hefty duties on sugar to protect its big producers (and keep refined sugar prices up), and the industry complains about Europeans dumping excess, discounted sugar on the world market. Stateside, a CNBC blogger suggested that if the government stopped backing the industry, “the only thing most U.S. taxpayers would notice would be lower prices.” The excess of subsidized sugar flooding world markets suggests it is possible to have too much of a good thing.