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.

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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