Sugar in the 2016 Campaign
We all know that throughout history politics and sugar have been intertwined to an amazing degree. From Napoleonic wars to Cuban embargoes to Mexican dumping investigations, the sugar industry has attempted to focus on the business of processing sugarbeets or sugarcane while also being engaged in the political world swirling around us. It’s true today and isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, just this week, in anticipation of the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, sugar got injected into the political realm yet again. You may be wondering, why in South Carolina? Good question. The answer is that Senator Ted Cruz is attacking Senator Marco Rubio for his stance on sugar policy, and it’s gotten particularly nasty. Here’s a two-page flyer distributed by the Cruz campaign to South Carolinians.
In addition, the Cruz campaign has released a website further dedicated to denigrating Senator Rubio. Check out http://www.therealrubiorecord.com/ In it, Cruz’s people have not only photo-shopped Senator Rubio into a fake handshake picture with President Obama, they label him “Big Sugar’s Puppet”.
Senator Rubio is no puppet, but he does understand that unilaterally disarming in the face of heavy foreign government subsidies doesn’t make sense, and that it will put efficient U.S. producers out of business and cost thousands of jobs. About U.S. sugar policy Rubio was quoted in the Des MoinesRegister saying, “Every other country in the world that grows sugar has a program for their industry, and if we get rid of ours, they’re going to wipe out our industry,” Rubio told The Register the day after the debate. “And I am not going to wipe out an important agriculture industry in the state of Florida that I represent in the Senate.”
Good for him. Apparently Senator Cruz feels differently. Cruz’ attempt to make Rubio’s support for U.S. sugar farmers cost him at the polls is not unlike many of the other political tactics candidates use to gain an edge over their opponents. As Finley Peter Dunne once quipped, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” It’s unfortunate, though, that Senator Cruz, who represents the sugarcane-producing state of Texas, has chosen to ignore the interests of his sugarcane constituents who do support U.S. sugar policy.
We’ll know soon enough whether Senator Cruz’ sugar attack on Senator Rubio works for him. Meanwhile, we’ll catalog this latest entry of the long-running relationship between sugar and politics as the hyperbole it is and stick to our daily job of making sugar from sugarbeets and making friends in Congress.