Larry Graham, Chairman of the Coalition for Sugar Reform and President and Chief Executive Office of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, said today, "New reports from the Congressional Budget Office and The Commission on 21st Century Production Agriculture predict a $1 billion tidal wave of red ink for the American taxpayer and constitute a clarion call for significant reform of the current sugar program."

"The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now projects the sugar program will cost taxpayers an additional $1 billion during the next ten years, an increase of $316 million during the last 12 months. This is in addition to the $465 million paid in subsidies in 2000. Even at a time when the federal government is running a huge surplus, this amount of direct subsidy is indefensible. It is time for the new Administration and the Congress to take a fresh look at this waste of money," he said.

A second report by The Commission on 21st Century Production Agriculture, a congressionally chartered farm policy commission, recognized the problems with the current program and the need for change. The report underscores the need to seriously consider alternatives to the current sugar program. It states:

"The Commission believes that serious consideration must be given to developing an alternative to the current sugar program. The following program options, individually or in combination, should be evaluated within the context of a commitment to a continuation of our existing international commitments on sugar imports: a marketing loan for sugar, domestic marketing controls, domestic production controls, and some form of direct payment to sugar producers."

"In recent years, sugar plantation owners and other producers have argued that the current program should continue because there were no direct costs to the Treasury. These two expert reports make it overwhelmingly clear that the supposedly 'no-cost' sugar program sugar program has become unaffordable for all of us -- consumers, environmentalists, government watchdogs and the food industry," Graham concluded.

The Coalition for Sugar Reform is a group of 20 organizations and associations whose objective is market-oriented reform for the U.S. sugar program. Coalition members represent consumers, environmentalists, think tanks, and advocates of fiscal responsibility, businesses and other interests. A listing of Coalition members and other additional information is available on the Coalition's website: http://www.sugar-reform.org.