Congress Can Help Proud California Industry
The “U.S. Sugar” Journey – thought leadership presented by Biscomerica
By: Nadi Soltan – the Chief Executive Officer of Biscomerica Corporation in Rialto California.
“Our main concern is the U.S. Sugar Program. This subsidy program displaces American jobs, forcing companies that include sugar as an ingredient in their products, such as Biscomerica”
Rialto, CA – Lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento constantly talk about jobs – how do they help business owners create them and maintain them. There are certainly challenges in today’s economy as business leaders navigate competition and the breakneck pace of innovation that is changing all industries.
But, policy can help. From tax reform to easing the burden of regulations, Congress is now finally moving ahead to ensure stability and predictability for job creators. We commend our bipartisan leaders from our state for working hard on our behalf. There is more work to do, however.
As CEO of a large manufacturing company based here in Rialto, I, along with the over 300 employees that work here at our state-of-the-art facility, have one additional policy need to highlight for lawmakers in Washington that desperately requires a solution. In fact, it is not just Biscomerica communicating this specific policy concern, but more than 2,300 companies in California that represent more than 90,000 jobs.
Our main concern is the U.S. Sugar Program. This subsidy program displaces American jobs, forcing companies that include sugar as an ingredient in their products, such as Biscomerica, to pay an inflated price for domestic sugar when compared to pricing for sugar on the world market.
Why are we forced to buy more expensive U.S. sugar when it is more affordable on the world market? That’s, sadly, the arrangement powerful domestic sugar growers, sparsely located in just a few regions around the country, made with Congress dating back to the Great Depression.
This bailout program for sugar producers provides a price floor for their product, assuring them of a profit by forcing American companies to pay more for their ingredients, but it also guarantees that the U.S. government buys any and all surplus sugar at the same higher price. That means taxpayers are annually on the hook for this program as well, to the tune of $374 million.
The story doesn’t end there. When companies such as ours are forced to pay higher prices for ingredients, those costs continually get pushed towards the consumer. One prominent think tank in Washington, the American Enterprise Institute, estimated that the costs to manufacturers and consumers is $4 billion annually.
We can do much better for consumers, manufacturers, and employees. Biscomerica is active in this effort to end the sugar program. We have communicated our concerns to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. We have also hosted elected officials at our facility here in Rialto, including Rep. Aguilar in 2016 and Rep. Torres last year. We like to remind these federally elected officials that our proud employee base of over 300 individuals, many of whom all reside here in the Inland Empire, deserve to know that Congress and the U.S. government is committed to ending the subsidization of a few thousand jobs for sugar producers when more than 600,000 jobs in food manufacturing across the country are at risk.
I recently wrote a letter to our U.S. congressional delegation to cosponsor the Sugar Policy Modernization Act. I want to thank U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein for being an original cosponsor of this legislation, which, if enacted, would eliminate outdated quotas on how much domestic sugar processing companies can sell, while reducing market distortions caused by sugar import quotas. This flexibility will enable manufacturers such as our company to see relief when it comes to purchasing sugar, making pricing more equitable. With savings, we can reinvest in our facilities, our employees, and ultimately our products so that we can remain competitive and be the world-class producer of baked cookies our customers have always expected since our founding over 30 years ago.
Again, we applaud the hard work of our lawmakers in Washington, but 2018 should mark the year when Congress finally reforms the outdated sugar subsidy program.
Nadi Soltan is the CEO of Biscomerica Corporation in Rialto. Biscomerica Corporation was founded in 1980 with the vision of providing top quality cookies and candy at a competitive price. Biscomerica is headquartered in Rialto, California, in a 250,000 square foot state of the art bakery facility dedicated to fulfilling this company vision.