Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Chairman, after three debates in support of my colleague from New York, I find myself on the opposite side of this issue.
We are in the process of developing a very viable American olive oil industry, one that has great potential. At [Page: H3904]
the same time, that industry faces a question from the consumers about the quality of the oil that is available, both domestically produced, as well as internationally produced.
There have been numerous studies done that indicate that there is a lot of misrepresentation as to the quality and the nature of olive oil. This bill, the FARRM Bill, simply establishes the opportunity for the creation of a marketing order that would eventually provide a farmer-oriented regulation of the quality and the type of olive oil that's going to be on the market. That would apply both to imported, as well as domestically produced, olive oil.
The cost of this need not be as high as my colleague from New York suggests. It is probable, and most feasible, that the olive oil that's imported would be checked as to its quality and consistency at the point of export, certainly not at the retail and probably not at the point of import.
This can be done. This is done in many, many products that are produced in America, as well as imported--quality controls, consumer awareness.
This is a very important bill for the domestic nascent olive oil industry.
Mr. MEEKS. Mr. Chairman, today, I rise to demonstrate my strong support for this amendment, led by my colleague from New York, Mr. Gibson, to strike the olive oil price increase.
This amendment is needed to stop the unnecessary increase in olive oil pricing. The unfair marketing order being considered would place heavy restrictions and burdens on the importation of olive oil.
The United States is the largest importer of oil, importing approximately 97 percent of the olive oil Americans consume. The marketing order would result in tens of millions of dollars of costs for inspections a year, in turn raising the price of olive oil and making it incredibly expensive.
The inspection would occur only when it is produced, not once the product enters the United States. This tax on American consumers will hinder trade and undermine our international trade relations. It is clearly a non-tariff trade barrier, which will further complicate U.S. trade and export relations with our Transatlantic partners.
Just this week, the President has launched the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. This provision is against the spirit of the talks and trade with our largest trading partner. Current European Union free trade talks would be compromised, resulting in the loss of greater U.S. exports.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment to strike the olive oil price increase.
Mr. HANNA. Mr. Chairman, I thank my friend from New York for yielding and for his work on this amendment.
I rise in support of this bipartisan amendment to strike the new trade barrier on imported olive oil included in this farm bill.
This would place a new effective tax rate on olive oil imports, which hurts small businesses like restaurants, retailers, and especially consumers. It will seriously threaten good jobs in many communities, including my own.
Roughly 98 percent of the olive oil consumed in the United States is imported. Only 2 percent--2 percent--is produced here. This new barrier would benefit a very small segment of the olive oil producers in very few States at the expense of all 50 States.
CBO pegged the new olive oil regulation as a private sector mandate--an earmark effectively--potentially costing businesses and consumers tens of millions of dollars.
Now is not the time to implement trade barriers with our allies as we begin new trade negotiations with the European Union. This amendment protects small businesses, consumers, and robust trade. I urge the support of this amendment.
Mr. SCHRADER. I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from California (Mr. LaMalfa).
The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from California is recognized for 2 1/2 minutes.
Mr. LaMALFA I must rise in opposition to this amendment from my colleague from New York.
In my family, olive oil was something that was very heavily used, my being of Italian descent. We purchased it locally in northern California by vendors just right nearby, and we always got top quality oil. I think we need to have that same opportunity for everybody across the country, not just the opportunity to buy the oil, but to know that the advertising--the labeling of it--is correct. Unfortunately, much imported oil does not have to meet the same standards for labeling, either using European
standards or ours, especially by the time it's shipped here.
So what we're looking for is not knocking out jobs or knocking out imported oil or any of that; it's just simply the truth in labeling that people would expect. When a label says ``extra virgin,'' then what should be in that container should be extra virgin. Unfortunately, much of it, by the time it gets here, is rancid. Maybe the label should say ``extra rancid.'' What we're after here is not to cause problems for our friends who would like to market it; it's more just the truth in advertising
that's necessary. There shouldn't be anything to worry about if you're an importer if your oil is meeting that standard.
Reasonable standards can be worked out for what the testing is, so let's move forward with blocking this amendment for today and, instead, allowing for a good labeling standard to be put in place for American olive oil users whether the olive oil is domestic or imported. So I ask for people to deny this amendment today.
Mr. GRIMM. I thank my colleague from New York.
I respect my colleagues from California and from Georgia, but let's just stop the nonsense and call it what it is.
I have a district that consumes more Greek oil and Italian oil than you can ever imagine. It's not rancid, and they don't have any problems. The producers here are the ones with the problems. The people buying it, the distributors, all the different restaurants--their costs would go up exponentially. They know good oil, and they haven't had a problem. Of course, there is always going to be a problem in every industry, but this is nothing more than a multimillion-dollar earmark, so let's call
it what it is; but I respect the fact that they're sticking up for their States.
Olives, just like oranges, are tested, but we don't test orange juice. Grapes are tested, but we don't test the wine. We do test olives, but we shouldn't be testing olive oil. It would be the only manufactured good tested as a commodity. That would be a mistake. Even the CBO says it would be tens of millions of dollars in costs. We can't afford [Page: H3905]
that for our jobs throughout the country. We can't afford that for our industry. This is a specialty earmark.
I respect the intent, but it is bad policy, and I would ask everyone to oppose it.