International Trade

Members of the Western Growers Board of Directors convened this week in Orange County under the leadership of Chairman Bruce Taylor to deliberate the top issues affecting the industry. High on the list of issues discussed were the drought and regulatory restrictions on water supply, food safety, labor union activities and immigration reform.  Several standing committees featured guest speakers.  Dr. Jay Famiglietti, a senior water cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and David Orth, general manager of the Kings River Conservation District, presented to the Water Committee; Amy Wolfe, president and CEO of AgSafe, presented to the Labor Committee; and Dr. Jerry Baron, executive director of IR-4 presented to the Food Safety, Science & Technology Committee. 

Dave Puglia

As a member of the USDA’s Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee (APAC), Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif returned to Washington, D.C. for high-level meetings with members of the administration on agriculture trade policy.  The advisory committee system was created by the U.S. Congress in 1974 to ensure that U.S. trade policy and trade negotiating objectives adequately reflect U.S. public-and private-sector interests.

 

Jumping ahead of their dockworker counterparts, 120 truck drivers employed by three different drayage companies at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, chose to strike “indefinitely” claiming extensive workplace violations by their employers.  The strike comes at a time when West Coast members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been engaged in intense negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) over their contract which expired on July 1.  PMA is the organization that represents port employers.

Ken Gilliland

Starting on July 7, Mexico will again allow U.S. potato growers to export their product to locations within 26 kilometers of the border.  In seemingly schizophrenic fashion, Mexico, within the last two months, has both expanded trade opportunities for U.S. potato growers to ship to cities having a population of at least 100,000 people and has also entirely rescinded the importation of all U.S. potatoes.

Due to a recent Maximum Residue Level (MRL) violation on an export shipment of celery to Japan, Western Growers cautions members to be mindful of pesticide/fungicide tolerances when shipping to Japan and any other countries.  While the U.S. may have established domestic tolerances on a particular pesticide/fungicide, other countries may have lower or zero tolerance levels  Such violations will not only place the individual shipper on enhanced surveillance, but in many cases, will increase the surveillance of the entire industry, especially when exporting to countries like Japan.

Ken Gilliland

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, representing about 20,000 longshoremen at 29 west coast ports, excluding Canada, are negotiating with the Pacific Maritime Association for a new contract.  The current six year contract expires on June 30, 2014.  Although both sides claim a commitment to negotiate until a deal is reached, concern remains about a strike disrupting shipments.  Should a lockout ensue, as happened in 2002 lasting 10-days, shippers will have to find alternative ports in the Gulf, east coast, or possibly Canada.

Ken Gilliland

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