Sugar Producers Boost Their Lobbying Muscle

By Judy Sarasohn
Thursday, February 2, 2006

Although the farm bill doesn't expire until 2007, it's not too soon for the sugar lobby to start increasing its firepower.

So forget any concerns about the revolving door. The American Sugar Alliance, which represents those who farm, process and refine sugar beets and sugar cane, has turned to Combest, Sell & Associates to help push its cause on Capitol Hill. Larry Combest (R-Tex.), of course, is the former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and the architect, as the alliance notes, of the current farm legislation. Tom Sell is the former deputy staff director of the committee.

Adding to its muscle, the Florida Sugar Cane League, an alliance member, has hired Ryan Weston , a longtime committee staffer, as vice president. Claire Folbre , another senior staff member of the panel, joined the league in August.

And just in case that isn't enough, alliance spokesman Phillip Hayes said about 50 sugar beet farmers will lobby the Hill next month.

The big issue for the sugar producers, Hayes said, is keeping in place federal policy that limits imports. Sugar users, such as candy companies, say that policy keeps sugar prices higher -- because it limits competition.

"The farm bill will literally make or break the country's ability to make sugar," Hayes said.

Recording Industry Experts Reunite

Hilary B. Rosen and Jay Berman , together again.

The two former chief executives of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) -- she was his first hire here and eventually succeeded him as head of the organization -- this week formed a partnership, Berman Rosen Global Strategies , to consult on communications and public affairs related to intellectual-property protection, anti-piracy issues, digital media technology and international trade.

Berman had moved on to London to head IFPI, a group that represents the international recording industry; he retired last year. Earlier, he served as special counselor for trade in the Clinton administration.

Rosen, a 17-year-veteran of the RIAA, took a break in 2003 to spend more time with her family -- or what goes for a break in Washington: She's been a commentator for CNBC television and has some other gigs.

As officials of the recording industry, Berman said, they "lived through and hopefully learned from . . . the beginning of the revolution in how entertainment is communicated to consumers." The recording industry has been at the center of intellectual-property rights and piracy issues because of the growth of computer and digital technology, and it has vigorously fought to protect its intellectual property.

Rosen and Berman said they don't plan to lobby in this new venture.

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