May 22, 2013

SENATOR HIRONO VOTES AGAINST MEASURE THAT WOULD ENDANGER HAWAII'S SUGAR INDUSTRY, RISK 800 JOBS IN STATE

Hirono: “This amendment was a raw deal for Hawaii”

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement after voting against an amendment to the 2013 Farm Bill that would have killed off Hawaii’s last sugar producer and risked 800 jobs in the state. The amendment failed the Senate on a bipartisan 45-54 vote.

“This amendment was a raw deal for Hawaii and sugar producers across the country,” said Hirono. “Much is said about supporting ‘made in America’ products, and this measure does the opposite. It would have virtually zeroed out American sugar producers and forced us to depend on heavily subsidized foreign producers for this important commodity. Eliminating measures that level the playing field for American sugar producers would cost an estimated 142,000 jobs nationwide and devastate Hawaii’s last remaining sugar producer. I will continue to work closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to guard against future attempts to roll back these basic protections for our sugar producers.”

The 2008 Farm Bill contained a number of measures that level the playing field for American sugar producers who must compete against foreign sugar industries, like those in Brazil and Mexico, that are subsidized by foreign governments. The measure Senator Hirono voted against today would have removed these protections and flooded the market with cheap foreign sugar, threatening an estimated 142,000 sugar producer jobs nationwide.

For more than a century, sugar has been an important part of Hawaii’s agriculture sector. The industry provides the state with 800 jobs.