It's sugar versus sugar on Capitol Hill, as growers are facing off against candy makers over the United States' longstanding import restrictions that keep sugar prices high, reports the Los Angeles Times. Both sides are spending millions of dollars lobbying over the latest farm bill now before Congress—the Senate voted against repealing the program last month, but candy-makers think they have a better shot in the Republican-controlled House.
Those opposed to the sugar program, which requires 85% of sugar sold in the United States to come from domestic sources, claim that it causes $3.5 billion in higher food prices for consumers each year. The program's defenders say protecting sugar helps the $20 billion food-processing industry and its 142,000 workers, asserting that lower food costs don't get passed along to consumers and instead just get turned into profits for manufacturers. Wholesale sugar prices have declined 19% since August 2010, but gum and candy prices have climbed 7%, note advocates for sugar growers.