Unrefined Politics of Sugar

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About
The art of lobbying is one of sugar’s enduring legacies, and both beet and cane interests benefit from the supposed “right” of citizens to enjoy abundant amounts of sugar at cheap prices.

Within the sugar industry, refiners have replaced producers as power brokers, and many dominate production as well. In the United States, the sugar lobby spends millions of dollars annually to persuade lawmakers to preserve legislative protection for cane- and beet-sugar producers, millers, and refiners by levying a prohibitive tariff that cripples foreign sugar trying to compete in the U.S. market. See sugar lobbies. Big Sugar has also devised ways to bypass U.S. anti-trust laws, primarily by marketing through cooperatives. Sugar growers have won exemptions from some labor regulations, such as the obligation to pay overtime wages.