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.
Subcommittee Chairman Baca Comments on GAO Reporting of Civil Rights Violations Within USDA
WASHINGTON - Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto, CA) gave the following statement today on the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report investigating the civil rights efforts overseen by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As Chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Departmental Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry, Rep. Baca has jurisdiction in the House over issues pertaining to oversight of the USDA.
The GAO report was conducted at the request of Reps. Baca and EdolphusTowns (D-NY), and U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Lugar (R-IN), and Charles Grassley (R-IA). The report found the USDA still has “significant deficiencies” in its civil rights efforts, and recommends new accountability structures to correct ongoing failures.
“The findings of today’s GAO report on the civil rights efforts of the USDA are very troubling. The ongoing failure to properly track and adjudicate civil rights complaints is a serious issue. Unfortunately, today’s report shows the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights has not lived up to it’s congressional mandate.”
“I thank the GAO for their diligent work in this report, and for the recommendations on improvement that it contains. I look forward to working proactively with my colleagues in Congress, and the next administration, to find a real solution that will end this long-standing stain on the USDA’s performance.”
A copy of the GAO report can be found online a http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-62.