Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, is pushing for reform to United States sugar policy when Congress reauthorizes the federal Farm Bill this year. The congressman wants to eliminate quotas on sugar imports which he said have artificially raised the price of the domestic product, sometimes as much as double the world market price.

“When they say, alright, this is how much gum can come in from other places and we can’t reach our demand, you can imagine that’s a ‘get out of jail free’ card for the U.S. producers to charge whatever they want because they know it’s going to get consumed,” he said.

Collins toured the Ford Gum Plant in Akron on Friday. It’s the only major gumball manufacturer remaining in the country and also makes Big League Chew.

The company’s CEO, George Stege, said branded products like the shredded gum have helped keep the company in business because it can charge more. When it comes to gumballs though, he said Canadian companies are dominating the market simply because the sugar is cheaper and they can undercut Ford’s prices.

Stege said all he wants is parity; the ability to purchase sugar at or near the world market price. The company currently employs about 150 people in Western New York

“We think we could grow the jobs here and frankly double the employment here because there are opportunities to go into certain areas if we could meet a certain price point which we can’t do currently,” he said.

Collins said the profit for sugar producers on the other hand, is going directly into their pockets and he’s not concerned about the potential impact changing policy could have on that industry.

“No one should be afraid of competition and I would say absolutely not, in this case fair trade just means you’ve got to play by the same rules and I don’t believe it would hurt our industry at all.”