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.
Lucas Praises House Passage of Trade Agreements
Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184
WASHINGTON – Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3078, the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act, H.R. 3079, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act, and H.R. 3080, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.
"On behalf of America's farmers and ranchers, I have been advocating for these agreements to strengthen our trading relationships in these important markets. I am pleased that after five years of waiting for action, our agricultural industry will benefit from significant, new market access. These agreements will put us in a better position to compete globally, expand U.S. exports, create jobs, and bring much-needed income to communities across rural America," said Chairman Frank D. Lucas.
Right now, Colombia imposes duties on all American agricultural products. They range from 5 to 20 percent. Yet the U.S. still sells more than $830 million in agricultural products there. That is because America’s farmers and ranchers produce high quality crops and livestock, and those goods are in demand. Under this agreement, Colombia would eliminate tariffs on 70 percent of U.S. exports. Also, American agricultural products would no longer be subject to tariffs and would become more cost-competitive. The Farm Bureau estimates that the U.S. will see $370 million more in farm exports to Colombia annually.
More than 60 percent of U.S. farm exports to Panama face some sort of duty or tariff. Those tariffs average 15 percent, but they can be as high as 70 percent on meat, 90 percent on grain, and a staggering 260 percent on poultry. Meanwhile, more than 99 percent of Panama’s farm exports enter the U.S. duty free. So this agreement not only creates new opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers, but it levels the playing field for American exporters.
Korea is the fifth largest market for U.S. agricultural exports. But currently, America’s producers face an average tariff of 54 percent when exporting to Korea. Similar goods from Korea enter the U.S. at an average rate of only 9 percent. Passing this agreement corrects that imbalance and provides better access to Korea’s 49 million consumers. The Farm Bureau estimates that once the agreement is fully implemented, the U.S. could see $1.9 billion in increased farm exports.