×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 222
Search - JEvents
Search - Categories
Search - Contacts
Search - Content
Search - News Feeds
Search - Web Links
Search - SunBay
Search - JComments
Thursday, 15 September 2016 15:07

WHO IS BIG SUGAR? ASR Group -The People Who Are Keeping Our Water Dirty! Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

American Sugar Refining,
Inc., the world’s largest supplier of
refined sugar, has unveiled a new
corporate brand name: ASR Group.
The company, which is owned by
Florida Crystals Corp. and Sugar
Cane Growers Cooperative of
Florida, said the move is designed
to “jointly identify the group of related
companies and portfolio of
brands.”
ASR Group’s regional
brands include: Domino Sugar and
C&H Sugar in the United States,
Redpath in Canada, Tate & Lyle
and Lyle’s in the United Kingdom,
Sidul and Sores in Portugal. ASR
Group also includes raw and refined
sugar operations in Mexico
and Belize and the Dominican Republic.
The company initially
began with U.S.-based refineries,
but their strategic acquisitions over
the past 10 years have elevated
them to where they are today: A
global company with business activities
spanning more than 40
countries worldwide. Their branded
and private label sugars, sweeteners
and syrups are sold in grocery,
food service and industrial channels
in the Americas, Europe, the
Middle East, India and Asia.
MEET THE ASR GROUP
Perhaps no industry has received
as much bipartisan federal
support as Big Sugar. The ASR
Group, a part of which is American
Crystal Sugar Company, has, in
2014, donated over

$1.3 million to 221 members of
Congress this election cycle, following
$1.4 million spent on lobbying
in 2013. Imagine what the
total amount will be in 2016.
Lawmakers across the political
spectrum, from Senator Barbara
Mikulski (D-MD) to Senator
Marco Rubio (R-FL), support
using taxpayer dollars to subsidize
the American sugar industry. In the
House, 46 percent of members—
109 Democrats and 92 Republicans—
received money from
American Crystal Sugar in this
election cycle.
In 1998, two Florida sugar
companies – Florida Crystals Corporation
and Sugar Cane Growers
Cooperative of Florida — formed a
strategic partnership to begin largescale
refining of their raw sugar.
The collaboration laid the groundwork
for what would become the
world’s most successful and innovative
cane sugar company: ASR
Group.
American Sugar Refining,
Inc. acquired Domino Sugar in
2001, the California and Hawaiian
Sugar Company (C&H Sugar) in
2005, Redpath Sugar in 2007, and
Tate & Lyle's European sugar operations
in 2010.
It’s the consummate immigrant
success story. The Fanjul
brothers and one sister, Alfonso,
José, Andres, Alexander and Lian,
come from a long line of powerful
Cuban sugar producers. After Fidel
Castro came to power in 1959, the
family fled to Florida. They began
growing cane in and around the
Everglades and in the 1980s expanded
production to the Dominican
Republic, where their company
is now the country’s largest private
landowner and employer.
In the European Union, the
company owns and operates sugar
refineries in England and Portugal,
formerly owned by Tate & Lyle.
The company’s products
are sold through a brand portfolio
that includes the premier
sugar brands Domino, C&H,
Florida Crystals, Redpath, and
Tate & Lyle. The company is
also the majority shareholder
of Belize Sugar Industries, the
only sugar mill in Belize.
They also own a sugar company,
Central Romana, in The
Dominican Republic. The
four Fanjul brothers have an
outsize presence in both the
Dominican Republic and the
United States. In the DR, their
American company, Central
Romana, produces most of the
country’s sugar. In the U.S., the
Fanjuls also grow cane and spend
heavily in Washington, ranking
among the sugar industry’s top political
donors and biggest spenders
on lobbying. As big players in both
countries, they benefit from a
highly profitable combination of
factors: In the DR, Central Romana
pays some of the lowest wages in
the country, produces most of the
country’s allotment of sugar exported
to the U.S. and, thanks to
CAFTA-DR, pays dwindling tariffs
for those exports.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the
Fanjuls sell their sugar at sometimes
two to three times the global
market price, thanks to import limits
and price supports.
SUGAR MONEY IN POLITICS
They are on Both Sides of the
Fence!
Despite their international
holdings, the Fanjuls have kept
their focus on ensuring that their
U.S. operations are as secure and
profitable as possible, with little
pushback from the government. In
last year’s election cycle, the
Florida Crystals political action
committee and the company’s employees
together contributed more
than $860,000 to candidates and
political spending groups. Also in
2014, Florida Crystals spent more
than $1 million lobbying Congress,
the U.S. Departments of Agriculture
and Commerce, and the Office
of the U.S. Trade Representative,
largely on import tariffs and policies
on biofuels and clean water.
The sugar industry, too, is a heavy
donor. According
to
the nonpartisan
research
group Center
for Responsive
Politics,
the industry
gave more
than $5 million
to members
of
Congress in
the last election
cycle,
an all-time
high. What the industry gets in return
for all this are domestic controls
and import tariffs that keep
prices up and profits high for U.S.
sugar producers, perpetuating a
controversial system.
Sugar is
“more dependent on

government support or protection
than any other agricultural industry
in this country,” says Daniel Pearson,
senior fellow of trade policy
studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian
think tank. “Government has
tended to look out for them, so it is
a symbiotic relationship.” The
price support system, known as the
sugar program, is reinserted into
the U.S. farm bill every time it
comes up for renewal. The
program limits the amount of sugar
on the U.S. market, whether imported
or grown domestically, to
keep prices higher than they are
everywhere else. And if there is a
glut in the market, the U.S. government
buys the surplus, which can
cost taxpayers hundreds of millions
of dollars.
Critics of the program
claim the elevated prices constitute
a redistribution of money from
consumers to wealthy sugar companies
and that they have driven
thousands of candy-making jobs
out of the country. Still, the program
continues, and according to
Pearson, the elevated sugar prices
add billions to consumer costs. In
the face of efforts by some legislators
to reform the sugar program,
cane and beet growers say the U.S.
sugar policy is needed to keep the
domestic sweetener competitive
and has allowed for the creation of
thousands of jobs.
As exporters to the United
States, the Fanjuls have some objectives
that the rest of the U.S.
sugar industry doesn’t. “They have
a balancing act in lobbying,” says
Vincent Smith, a professor of agricultural
economics at Montana
State University and visiting
scholar at American Enterprise Institute,
a conservative-leaning
think tank. According to Smith, the
Fanjuls have an interest in limiting
imports on sugar to keep domestic
prices high, but also for the DR to
have the highest proportion of
those imports. The tariff rate quota,
or TRQ, is the amount a country
can export to the U.S. with reduced
tariffs. The DR is consistently
among the top exporters of sugar to
the U.S., and it has the highest
TRQ of any country, taking 17 percent
of the share. (Brazil is second
with 13.7 percent.) Sixty-three percent
of the DR’s quota is allocated
to the Fanjuls’ company, Central
Romana.
Still, what the DR exports to the
U.S. is not enough to depress domestic
prices. In recent years, the
Caribbean country has been far
from filling its TRQ because of reduced
production due to drought
and increased exports to Europe.
But even if it did, that wouldn’t
lower the price of sugar in the
U.S., say analysts. Most of the
sugar Americans consume is produced
domestically, and the big
import threat comes not from the
DR, but from Mexico — which is
exempt from quotas under the
North American Free Trade Agreement.
In their lobbying on NAFTA,
the Fanjuls’ Florida

Crystals and other domestic producers
have the same interests.
Last fall, U.S. sugar was able to
convince the Department of Commerce
to impose a tariff on Mexican
sugar imports in an ongoing
anti-dumping case, in which U.S.
sugar representatives’ claim, ironically,
that Mexico is violating
NAFTA by
subsidizing its sugar.
The Fanjul family
donates to legislators of
both parties as well. Alfonso,
aka Alfy, consistently
supports
Democratic candidates
and causes, while his
younger brother José, aka
Pepe, does the same for
Republicans.
And two longtime family
favorites are current presidential
candidates:
Hillary Clinton and Sen.
Marco Rubio. According
to the Center for Responsive
Politics, Florida
Crystals’ employees and
dependents rank among Rubio’s
top five contributors since 2009.
Despite their international
holdings, the Fanjuls have kept
their focus on ensuring that their
U.S. operations are as secure and
profitable as possible, with little
pushback from the government. In
last year’s election cycle, the
Florida Crystals political action
committee and the company’s employees
together contributed more
than $860,000 to candidates and
political spending groups. Also in
2014, Florida Crystals spent more
than $1 million lobbying Congress,
the U.S. Departments of Agriculture
and Commerce, and the Office
of the U.S. Trade Representative,
largely on import tariffs and policies
on biofuels and clean water.
The sugar industry, too, is a
heavy donor. According to the nonpartisan
research group Center for
Responsive Politics, the industry
gave more than $5 million to members
of Congress in the last election
cycle, an all-time high. What
the industry gets in return for all
this are domestic controls and import
tariffs that keep prices up and
profits high for U.S. sugar producers,
perpetuating a controversial
system.
Sugar is “more dependent
on government support or protection
than any other agricultural industry
in this country,” says Daniel
Pearson, senior fellow of trade policy
studies at the Cato Institute, a
libertarian think tank. “Government
has tended to look out for
them, so it is a symbiotic relationship.”
The price support system,
known as the sugar program, is
reinserted into the U.S. farm bill
every time it comes up for renewal.
The program limits the
amount of sugar on the U.S. market,
whether imported or grown
domestically, to keep prices higher
than they are everywhere else. And
if there is a glut in the market, the
U.S. government buys the surplus,
which can cost taxpayers hundreds
of millions of dollars.
Critics of the program
claim the elevated
prices constitute a redistribution
of money
from consumers to
wealthy sugar companies
and that they have
driven thousands of
candy-making jobs out
of the country. Still, the
program continues, and
according to Pearson,
the elevated sugar
prices add billions to
consumer costs. In the
face of efforts by some
legislators to reform
the sugar program,
cane and beet growers
say the U.S. sugar policy
is needed to keep
the domestic sweetener
competitive and has allowed for
the creation of thousands of jobs.
“The Sugar Program' ensures
prices in the U.S. are higher than in
the rest of the world!
Keith Nicholson
Fort Myers Beach

Read 3764 times Last modified on Thursday, 15 September 2016 15:18

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

welocomepng8

250x250

digital version