Here's something to think about: what if I told you that if we imported more sugar into this country, we would pay less when we go out to eat at a restaurant? Here's another one: what if I told you that adding more sugar to your diet would be a good thing? Finally, imagine that sugar could lower the price of gasoline; wouldn't that be nice? I know this sounds crazy, but for a moment, imagine that it's possible. As unlikely as it sounds, it could all happen in the next five years, or less, if the United States simply decides to make it happen. And what needs to happen is that the United States needs to end its long standing restrictions on imported sugar.
So what exactly are sugar restrictions and how do they work? The U.S. Sugar Program, or tariff-rate quotas (TRQs), are combinations of quotas (limits) and tariffs (taxes) placed on imported sugar. When the amount of imported sugar exceeds the TRQ, the prices rise to around 150% of the sugar's cost. "On average, Americans pay 3 times the world price for sugar" (Goone). Sugar tariffs artificially raise the price of sugar, and if the United States allowed sugar to be a part of the free-market economy, and if the United States let the laws of supply and demand economics run its course, the price of sugar would fall. It's really that simple. .
So why do we as consumers care about sugar tariffs? The ability to buy sugar at "world" prices would have profound effects on the American economy. Cheap sugar means that restaurants, who do not cook or bake with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), would spend less money for this key main ingredient. Low cost sugar would in turn lower the restaurants input cost, and the restaurant industry could in turn pass these savings on to us. Cheap sugar would enable companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi to once again use sugar instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup in the production of soda. And cheap sugar means low-cost, high efficiency ethanol production.