`New U.S. Farm Bill Includes Olive Oil Controls

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New Farm Bill Includes Olive Oil Controls

May. 20, 2013
Nancy Flagg

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Rank­ing Mem­ber Collin Peter­son said he was hope­ful” a new five-year farm bill, that includes olive oil among the Sec­tion 8e” com­modi­ties, could be in place before the August con­gres­sional recess.

The U.S. Farm Bill of 2012 failed to pass, but a new ver­sion is back with the same pro­vi­sion for olive oil as last year’s ver­sion.

The Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Reform and Risk Man­age­ment (FARRM) Act of 2013 was approved Fri­day (May 16) by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee by a 36 – 10 vote. Tucked in on page 505 of the 576-page doc­u­ment is a sin­gle line refer­ring to olive oil: Sec­tion 8e (a) of the Agri­cul­tural Adjust­ment Act (7 U.S.C. 608e‑1 (a)) is amended by insert­ing olive oil,” after olives (other than Span­ish-style green olives).”

What the lit­tle inser­tion would mean, if ulti­mately approved, is that olive oil would be included on the list of com­modi­ties under import con­trols, and olive oil importers would have to meet the same stan­dards imposed on domes­tic pro­duc­ers. How­ever, the Sec­tion 8e amend­ment would not have any prac­ti­cal impli­ca­tions unless and until a Fed­eral mar­ket­ing order set­ting qual­ity stan­dards for olive oil were adopted by the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

Accord­ing to Alexan­der Ott of the Amer­i­can Olive Oil Pro­duc­ers Asso­ci­a­tion (AOOPA), not even a draft mar­ket­ing order exists. Even if the offi­cial process for one were started, there are many steps involved before a stan­dard could get into place.

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John Sessler, Chair­man of the North Amer­i­can Olive Oil Asso­ci­a­tion (NAOOA) stated in his annual report that the NAOOA will con­tinue to oppose any efforts to cre­ate a mar­ket­ing order because of the huge trade dis­rup­tions one would cause.”

In con­trast, Ott sees mar­ket­ing orders as equal­iz­ers. A lot of peo­ple will say a mar­ket­ing order will do harm, but it is a com­mod­ity pro­vi­sion, just like in any other indus­try — it would apply to every­one and all would play by the same rules,” said Ott.

In a press release, Rank­ing Mem­ber Collin Peter­son was hope­ful about the FARRM Act of 2013 being approved by the full House and the Sen­ate. With today’s action I’m opti­mistic the farm bill will con­tinue through reg­u­lar order and be brought to the House floor in June. If we can stay on track, I think we should be able to con­fer­ence with the Sen­ate in July and have a new five-year farm bill in place before the August recess.”

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