Sugar Tariff Battle:
First Phase, 1920-1928
The postwar slump in the economy of the United States produced an increased demand for an upward revision of the tariff. Many industries clamored for protection of their domestic market from foreign competition. Tariff revision was also seen as a possible means of alleviating the depressed condition of farmers, and the large farm organizations were as vigorous in their demands for protection as the chemical and textile industries. 1 The beet sugar growers and refiners were typical of this group. They had increased production to meet the war-stimulated demand, and the drastic collapse of the sugar market in 1920 hurt them as much as it did the Cuban producers. The beet sugar producers knew that Cuban sugar could undersell their product in a glutted market because of lower production costs. Transportation costs made little difference in the competitive position of Cuban raw sugar, so the domestic producers demanded an increase in the tariff in order to garner as much of the American market as possible.
At the beginning of the tariff debate in 1921 the effective rate on Cuban sugar was 1.0048 cents a pound; or 20 percent less than the full duty. The Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act, which had set this rate, had also provided that sugar should be placed on the free list on May 1, 1916. The domestic producers had managed to have this provision repealed on April 27, 1916, but the remaining duty was not an important issue as long as the