COMMITTEE PASSES BILLS TO PROVIDE CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT FOR AGRICULTURAL SANCTIONS AND EXPAND PEAR EXPORTS
In its first legislative business meeting of the 106th Congress, the House Committee on Agriculture unanimously passed the Selective Agricultural Embargoes Act (H.R. 17) and H.R. 609, loosening regulations over pear export.
"Both bills passed today are aimed at keeping foreign markets open to American agricultural products," Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) said. "Exports are the lifeblood of U.S. farmers and ranchers, and we need to do whatever we can to help our producers compete in the global marketplace."
The Selective Agricultural Embargoes Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Ewing (R-IL) Chairman of the Risk Management, Specialty Crops, and Research Subcommittee, requires the President to report to Congress when he imposes a selective embargo on agricultural goods. Congress would then pass a bill expressing either approval or disapproval of the embargo. If a bill of disapproval becomes law, the embargo would cease after 100 days.
"When the United States agriculture producers export close to 40% of their crops an embargo of this type is a severe blow," remarked Ewing. "We have got to keep opening up new markets to insure that our farmers remain competitive in the new global marketplace."
The original Apple and Pear Export Act prohibited the export of apples and pears graded below U.S. Number One and Fancy in order to protect the reputation of U.S. produce in foreign markets. However, there is widespread agreement that this prohibition is no longer necessary and has proved a hindrance to American pear exporters. H.R. 609, introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), simply removes pears from the law, and enjoys the support of the Clinton Administration.
"While the Export Apple and Pear Act was helpful to pear growers in the 1930's, it has become an obstacle to the expansion of pear exports," stated Walden. "This legislation will allow pear growers the flexibility they need to expand their export markets. In addition to the pear industry, I believe we need to provide more flexibility for all farmers and I will be looking to address similar problems faced by other segments of agriculture."
Combest represents Texas' 19th Congressional District which includes the Panhandle, South Plains, and Permian Basin. Ewing represents Illinois' Fifteenth Congressional District, which includes eleven counties in East-Central Illinois.