Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) rejected the latest recommendation to establish a generic mandatory label option, an option typically referred to as a “Product of North America” label, should the U.S. lose its World Trade Organization (WTO) appeal regarding country of origin labeling (COOL) in the coming weeks.
Subcommittee Reviews Specialty Crops
LODI, CALIFORNIA – Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture Chairman Robin Hayes (R-NC) chaired a field hearing today in Lodi, California to review the specialty crop industry. The hearing covered a variety of issues including trade, market access, conservation, research and pests and diseases affecting the fruit, nut, vegetable, wine and nursery industries. Witnesses included California Agriculture Secretary, A.G. Kawamura, as well as various specialty crop industry representatives and producers.
In addition to the hearing, the Chairman, as well as members of the California Delegation including Reps. Richard Pombo, Devin Nunes, George Radanovich, Dennis Cardoza, and Jim Costa, and Ed Case of Hawaii, will have the opportunity to visit local agriculture operations in the Lodi area. “I know the value of the specialty crop industry to the U.S. economy, and that this sector of agriculture is especially important to California and we are glad to be here in the Central Valley having this hearing. While I am here, I look forward to joining some of my colleagues in touring specialty crop operations to see first-hand how the industry is being affected by current domestic policies,” said Chairman Hayes.
California is an agriculturally diverse state that contributes significantly to U.S. agriculture production. Additionally, California accounts for 10 percent of U.S. agricultural exports. Secretary Kawamura noted in his testimony that “California’s agricultural production, almost $32 billion, is nearly twice that of the next closest agricultural state. If ranked separately, California’s agricultural economy is the fifth largest in the world, behind only the U.S., European Union, China and Brazil.”
Ranking Minority Member Ed Case (D-HI) noted the immense diversity of the specialty crop industry and the important role the industry and producers played in crafting legislation to meet their needs. “Federal agricultural policy has been dominated by a very few large program crops, which is what caused many of us, led by the great California delegation, to introduce and pass the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act in 2004. Our hearing certainly highlighted the incredible diversity of U.S. specialty crops, whether it be the Central Valley's fruits and vegetables or Hawaiian tropical flowers and aquaculture. The testimony of California's agriculture community has armed us well to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on rapid and full implementation of the Act,” said Rep. Case.
Specific specialty crop policies will be reviewed fully by the House Committee on Agriculture during the upcoming farm bill review process. The 2002 Farm Bill will expire in 2007 and the Committee on Agriculture will begin process of reauthorizing the farm bill with hearings slated to begin later this fall.
A.G. Kawamura, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento, California
Paul Wenger, Second Vice President, California Farm Bureau Federation, Modesto, California
Barry J. Bedwell, President, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Fresno, California
Robert Woolley, Co-Owner and President, Dave Wilson Nursery, Inc., Hickman, California, on behalf of American Nursery and Landscape Association
Matt McInerney, Executive Vice President, Western Growers, Newport Beach, California
Rodney R. Schatz, Winegrape Grower, Lodi, California, on behalf of California Association of Winegrape Growers and the Wine Institute
Neil Cracknell, President, Sensient Dehydrated Flavors, Turlock, California, on behalf of the American Dehydrated Onion and Garlic Association
Nicholas Hill, Citrus Producer, Dinuba, California, on behalf of California Citrus Mutual
Accompanied by Joel Nelsen, President, California Citrus Mutual, Exeter, California
Nick Tompkins, President and CEO, Apio, Inc., Guadalupe, California, and Chairman, Board of Directors on behalf of United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association