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.
Smith Meets with China's Ambassador, Calls for End to Chinese Ban on Northwest Wheat, U.S. Citrus
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On the heels of the congressional vote to continue China's Most Favored Nation (MFN) trading status, Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, met today with China's Ambassador to the United States and urged the Chinese Government to drop it's ban on Pacific Northwest wheat, as well as U.S. citrus, and to travel to the United States to examine Northwest wheat and U.S. citrus for themselves.
At a meeting this afternoon, Smith called on Li Daoyo, China's Ambassador to the United States, to urge his government to drop its scientifically-unfounded ban on wheat shipments from the Pacific Northwest. Smith also urged Ambassador Daoyu to end China's ban on citrus imports from California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. At the request of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Smith extended an invitation to Chinese officials to travel to the Pacific Northwest to examine firsthand the quality of Pacific Northwest wheat.
"China's ban on Northwest wheat has no basis in sound science," said Smith. "This is no small matter, China is an important market for Northwest wheat producers. If the Chinese accept our invitation to travel to the Pacific Northwest, they will see firsthand that Northwest wheat is among the best in the world."
"China's ban on U.S. citrus imports only hurts their chances for admission into the World Trade Organization," said Smith. "I appreciate that last week China began to import Washington sweet cherries, and they will soon begin imports of Oregon sweet cherries. Today, China's ambassador to the U.S. said he's optimistic that we can end China's citrus ban, and I hope he's right," said Smith.
China has long barred wheat imports from the Pacific Northwest, claiming that low levels of TCK in Northwest wheat affects production. In 1992, China and the United States entered into an Market Access Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that included an agreement to resolve China's phytosanitary concerns. Despite the 1992 agreement, and despite the fact that the low levels of TCK in Northwest wheat in no way impact wheat production, the Chinese have continued to exclude Northwest wheat
In addition, China continues to ban citrus imports from Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California, citing medfly concerns - despite the fact that the U.S. has an effective medfly containment and eradication program. USTR officials see China's citrus ban, as well as China's wheat ban, as hampering progress on China's admission into the World Trade Organization.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District - which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon - in the U.S. House of Representatives.