Rep. Austin Scott, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, held a public hearing to review the impact of enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on specialty crop growers. Specifically, Subcommittee Members addressed growing concerns that DOL is using the "Hot Goods" provision under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) in an arbitrary manner against producers of perishable agricultural commodities without regard for the inevitable destruction of the product and significant economic hardship inflicted on farmers and their employees.
The Ag Minute: H.R. 6194 Protects Specialty Crop Growers from Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens
Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184
WASHINGTON – This week during The Ag Minute, guest host Rep. Jean Schmidt discusses the United States requests for critical use exemptions (CUEs) that are being arbitrarily blocked by other countries in the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC). Methyl bromide has been an effective fumigant for specialty crop growers, however through the Montreal Protocol, availablilty and application has been dramatically reduced. H.R. 6194, the U.S. Agricultural Sector Relief Act, provides growers the best possible chance to have the alternatives they need.
Click here to listen to The Ag Minute. The transcript is below.
"Protecting our environment is important to all of us, but it’s equally important that regulations make sense and do not place unnecessary burdens on our agricultural producers.
"For decades, growers of numerous specialty crops, including tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, among others, have used the fumigant methyl bromide.
"In accordance with the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. has phased out widespread use of this fumigant subject to certain allowable exemptions for ‘critical uses’ where there is no viable alternative available.
"The problem is that the Environmental Protection Agency has been rejecting or significantly reducing critical use exemption requests, which has created uncertainty about the availability of both methyl bromide and viable alternatives.
"This is a great concern for the American agricultural sector. If this issue is not addressed, then we will lose significant crop production to other countries resulting in lost jobs and opportunities.
"That’s why I co-sponsored H.R. 6194, the U.S. Agricultural Sector Relief Act, to ensure that growers have the opportunity to seek critical use exemptions of methyl bromide or have access to safe, viable alternatives.
"The U.S. should follow its obligations under the Montreal Protocol, but American agriculture should not be put in jeopardy in the process."
The Ag Minute is Chairman Lucas's weekly radio address that is released from the House Agriculture Committee.