Crony Conflicts

The marriage between state and business is always interesting but get’s especially interesting when two or more politically influential cronies come into conflict. Candy and softdrink manufacturers are currently at odds with domestic sugar farmers because the former wants to eliminate sugar import restrictions while the latter wants to leave them in place to protect their artificially inflated profits:

Makers of sodas, candy bars and other sweetened snacks are taking aim at a long-standing federal program that keeps sugar prices high by restricting imports.

Doing away with the sugar program would be a “huge boost” to candy makers and help them grow, said Robert Simpson Jr., president of Jelly Belly Candy Co., which has factories in Fairfield, Calif., Chicago and Thailand.

But the efforts of manufacturers are sparking intense opposition among lawmakers from sugar-growing states and the sugar lobby, as well as from some public health advocates.

“Is this where we need Congress to spend its time, trying to make cheap candy bars?” said Mark Muller, director of the Food and Justice Program at the advocacy group Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

With high-fructose corn syrup getting more bad press every day customers are beginning to demand sugar in their sweets. Candy and softdrink manufacturers, wanting to please their customers, have a direct interest in using sugar but reluctant to do so because the costs are higher. The costs of natural sugar are higher in the United States due to import restrictions on sugar, ensuring domestic producers have less competition and can keep their prices high.

This is the only possible outcome of cronyism, eventually cronies will butt heads with one another and both demand the state’s support. When that happens you really get to see the deals cronies have to make with their state masters in order to gain favor, however temporary that favor may end up being.