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.
U.S., Mexico Show New Flexibility on Non-Tariff Trade Barriers, U.S. Citrus Gets New Access to Mexico
U.S., Mexico Shows New Flexibility on Non-Tariff Trade Barriers, U.S. Citrus Gets New Access to Mexico: Market Opening Follows Agriculture Committee's April Trade Mission
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A renewed focus on the science of agricultural trade, first urged by Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Smith (R-OR) following the Committee's April trade mission to Mexico, has paid off for Florida and Arizona citrus producers, who Mexico now recognizes as free from citrus canker and mediterranean and Mexican fruit flies, opening the Mexican market to the products.
In April, following the Committee on Agriculture's trade mission to Mexico and discussions with Mexican officials, Chairman Smith and other Members of the Committee asked President Bill Clinton to recognize the Mexican state of Sonora as hog cholera free and the Mexicali Valley as free of Karnal bunt fungus. At the time, Smith said Mexico could be expected to show a similar willingness to resolve non-tariff trade barriers. Today, Smith's predictions came true.
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today announced that the U.S. would recognize Sonora as a low-risk region for hog cholera and the Mexicali Valley as free from Karnal bunt. Also, Mexico recognized Florida's citrus production region as free from citrus canker, agreeing that Florida's efforts to isolate and eradicate the disease had been unprecedented, removing citrus canker as an impediment to imports of Florida citrus. In addition, Mexico recognized Arizona's citrus production as free from the Mediterranean fruit fly and the Mexican fruit fly.
There are no remaining phytosanitary issues preventing Mexico's importation of Florida or Arizona citrus. Shipments could begin as early as next season and result in sales of several million dollars annually.
"I'm delighted the Committee's efforts paid off," Smith said. "These common sense decisions, on our part and on the part of Mexico, will serve both our countries and their people very well. It supports the Committee's aggressive resolve to open markets around the world. We have much to gain by eliminating non-tariff trade barriers and encouraging agricultural trade. I'm convinced that America's farmers and ranchers continue to produce the world's highest quality farm products and that our future in the international market will continue to be a bright one," Smith said.
The Committee on Agriculture visited Mexico from March 31 to April 1.
Smith, who represents Oregon's Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, has made opening markets for American agricultural exports the Agriculture Committee's highest priority in the 105th Congress.