U.S. sugar policy should be left alone. Such is the sentiment of most developing countries with access to the American sugar market that don't want to see the policy weakened or tampered with during the next farm bill debate.

The U.S. is crucial for the 38 developing nations that export sugar to America. In a U.S. market where sugar prices hover at a level reflecting production costs, guaranteed access to that market is a boon for those poor countries.

Paul Ryberg, president of the International Sugar Trade Coalition (ISTC – a nonprofit coalition of sugar industry groups in nearly 20 developing countries) — said the sugar policy approved by Congress in 2008 “maintains a price that is fair and covers the cost of producing sugar in developing countries.”

He further stated, “If there were no U.S. sugar policy or a weak U.S. sugar policy, we would see a flood of imports that would depress the price below the cost of producing sugar … the vast majority of developing countries that produce and export sugar could not survive at that price; they would be forced out of business.”

The ISTC is a key supporter of U.S. sugar policy and a critic of alternative sugar policies based on artificial price depression through taxpayer-funded subsidies.

According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, Americans prefer the continuation of current sugar policy over several alternative options that have been presented by food manufacturers — by a 3-to-1 margin.

For more information on the ISTC, visit www.sugarcoalition.org or to learn about the International Sweetener Symposium, go to www.sugaralliance.org.