|5:31 PM EDT||
Lynn Woolsey, D-CA 6th
Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this shortsighted amendment which would have a huge impact on the constituents in my district, Sonoma and Marin Counties in California, a district where some of the world's finest wines are produced. If this amendment passes, our world famous wine would certainly have a more difficult time competing in the world market. So would our neighboring districts, Napa County, Mendocino County and neighboring States, Oregon and Washington, and States across
the country, like Arkansas.
This amendment would impact the small wine producers, those who rely upon Federal export assistance to enter and compete in the global marketplace. Let us be clear. The playing field in the world export market for wines is not level. Unlike Europe and unlike South America, U.S. wine producers receive no production subsidies, no subsidies whatsoever, for their production. Furthermore, our competitors outspend the United States in export subsidies by more than 6 to 1.
Mr. Chairman, small California wineries suffer in such a lopsided marketplace without some marketing assistance. Let there be no mistake, this amendment targets small, family-owned businesses. Eighty-nine percent of the wineries that participate in the Market Access Program are small wineries. Furthermore, the Market Access Program is not a handout. It is a partnership, a partnership between small businesses and the USDA. And it provides funds on a cost-share basis. The European Union export
subsidies amounted to approximately $10 billion last year, Mr. Chairman. In fact, the European Union spends more on export promotion for wine than the United States does for all of our agricultural programs combined.
We need only look at last year to see this unfair disparity. Market promotion funds for the American wine industry totalled approximately $5 million. The heavily subsidized European wine industry received $1.5 billion. That is $5 million in the United States and $1.5 billion in Europe. The money we spend to increase the markets for American agricultural products is money well spent. Because of assistance from the Market Access Program, U.S. wine exports had their 14th consecutive record-breaking
year in 1998, reaching $537 million. This level is $100 million over the year before, which means that each Market Access Program dollar generated a $20 increase in exports.
Just as important, California wines can now be found on the retail shelves of over 164 countries. In the last 10 years, an additional 7,500 full-time jobs and 5,000 part-time jobs have been created by exporting wine. This is not only good for the American balance of trade, it is good for the American economy.
Mr. Chairman, we should help export U.S. products, not U.S. jobs. Oppose this amendment.