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.
Ag Chairman Leads House Vote For Crop Year Assistance
Approval sets urgency for Senate to act within weeks
(June 26, 2001) – House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas) led support for today's House passage of economic assistance for farmers squeezed by low prices and high input costs for 2001 crops. H.R. 2213, "The Crop Year 2001 Agricultural Economic Assistance Act," passed the U.S. House of Representatives without objection. Agriculture Chairman Combest called for Senate action that must occur within weeks to ensure that the $5.5 billion funds get to producers before the funding authority expires with the end of the 2001 Fiscal Year, September 30.
"The important point is to move the process along," said Chairman Combest in advocating the bill's passage. "Because the FY2001 funds will expire unless delivered to hard-pressed farmers by the end of September, it is imperative that a bill be sent to the President for signature before the August recess. In my opinion, this amount is not sufficient to meet the minimum needs of our producers, and I intend to work further as this bill moves through the legislative process to improve the package."
$4.6 billion of the total is for Market Loss Assistance based on the AMTA transition payments, with the balance going to oilseeds, peanuts, wool and mohair and other producers. Although current low commodity prices and higher energy costs justify no less than the $5.5 billion provided in last year's Market Loss Assistance to row crop producers alone, Combest said there will be opportunities to improve upon the bill as it moves through the legislative process.
H.R. 2213 includes:
Market Loss Assistance. $4.6 billion in Market Loss Assistance to producers of AMTA crops (wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, upland cotton, and rice).
Oilseeds Assistance. $424 million in economic assistance to producers of oilseeds (soybeans, sunflower seed, rapeseed, canola, safflower, flaxseed, mustard seed).
Peanut Assistance. $54 million in economic assistance to producers of peanuts.
Tobacco Assistance. $129 million in economic assistance to producers of tobacco.
Wool and Mohair Assistance. $17 million in economic assistance to producers of wool and mohair.
Cottonseed Assistance. $85 million in economic assistance to producers and first handlers of cottonseed.
Specialty Crops Assistance. Provision includes $26 million in grants to states to promote agriculture with $500,000 for each state and $1 million for Puerto Rico; $133 million in grants to states in amounts that represent the proportional value of specialty crops in each state relative to the national value of specialty crop production; and $10 million in payments to states for the processing, transportation, and distribution of commodities purchased under the Emergency Food Assistance Act (EFAP) of 1983.
Payment Limitations. Increases payment limits on marketing loan gains and deficiency payments to $150,000 per person for the 2001 crop.
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