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.
Several Ag Bills become Law in One Measure
Several Ag Bills Become Law in One Measure
Comprehensive Scope of U.S. Grain Standards and Warehouse Improvement Act
Comprehensive legislation now signed into law not only reauthorizes the grain inspection system and allows use of electronic warehouse receipts, but also includes provisions from several additional bills to assist producers and rural communities. The measure was assigned a Public Law number today, after its signature late last week by the president.
The main thrust of H.R. 4788, "U.S. Grain Standards and Warehouse Improvement Act" (Public Law #106-472) safeguards and streamlines storage and shipping of agricultural goods by providing authority for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) — and specifically, the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS). The act also modernizes the U.S. Warehouse Act by allowing the use of electronic receipts in federally licensed warehouses.
"The grain standards provisions ensure confidence to our producers, grain elevators, and overseas buyers," said Agriculture Commodities Subcommittee Chairman Bill Barrett (R-NE). "The grain inspection and weighing procedure is very important to farmers and grain elevators in the delivery of a quality product. Revisions to the Warehouse Act will make this program more relevant to today's agricultural marketing system by allowing an electronic receipt from buyer to seller across state and international boundaries."
"This legislation will bring grain inspection and the use of warehouse facilities into the 21st Century, while addressing a host of additional needs in rural communities," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) said. "The comprehensive scope of the Grains and Warehouse Act provides consistent inspection of grains and the ability to utilize electronic receipts and documents for all major commodities, which will foster more reliable, competitive and efficient commerce within the agricultural sector."
Among the law's provisions, the U.S. Grain Standards and Warehouse Improvement Act:
Continues state-run mediation services for producers struggling to regain financial footing.
Authorizes grants to private, non-profit organizations for the stockpiling and rapid transportation, delivery, and distribution of shelf-stable prepackaged foods to needy individuals in foreign countries.
Extends the filing deadline for producers to make claims arising from a false inspection certificate issued at the Hunts Point Terminal Market (the original July deadline is now extended to January 1, 2001.)
Directs the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to fund his Pork checkoff referendum with Commodity Credit Corporation funds, as he had said he would, and not take producers' funds.
Assists local communities with shared funding to repair 10,000 federally built flood prevention dams.