Sugar subsidies hurt the baking industry

As one of the owners of H&S Bakery, which employs hundreds of Marylanders, I was disappointed that your May 21 article, "Policy pits candy against sugar," did not mention how the federal sugar subsidy program negatively affects bakeries in our state.

There are nearly 11,000 Marylanders employed in the baking industry, which generates more than $1.3 billion in state economic growth. The sugar program puts those jobs and growth at risk by imposing an up to $3.5 billion hidden tax annually on businesses and consumers nationwide — all to provide a special interest subsidy to sugar producers. Across America, there are only about 4,700 sugar farms — none in Maryland — while there are nearly 600,000 Americans employed in sugar-using industries, including the baking industry. There is no other government program that takes from so many to give to so few.

The U.S. Senate, including Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, squandered an opportunity to modestly reform the costly, Depression-era sugar program when they narrowly defeated a bipartisan amendment to the 2013 farm bill. Now our state's representatives in the U.S. House have a chance to save Maryland jobs and spur economic growth by supporting efforts to reform this costly program. I urge them to do so. The time for reform is now.

John Paterakis Jr., Baltimore