National Issues Statement
Public policy and government relations on a state and federal level are a key to the success of the fruit and vegetable industry in Georgia. Legislation affects your livelihood as a grower and produce industry member, and it is one of the main areas where we place our focus.
What our federal government does, and in some cases does not do, can affect your business and livelihood. Whether it be farm policy, fruit & vegetable programs, agriculture research pesticide registrations, rules & regulations, legislation, health care, labor laws and regulations, the GFVGA staff and board are involved to provide input, education and support to decision makers both in state and on the federal level.
No matter what the policy on the table though, the most effective campaigns involve grassroots communication and efforts. Keep an eye out for our “Legislative Alerts”, and when the time comes to make change and make your voice heard, get involved.
You can search for your state and federal legislators and their contact information here.
SenateAdopted February 2019
As we enter 2019, the
mid-terms are behind us and the 2020 Presidential election becomes more
important for candidates as they position campaigns to affect legislation. We
now have a democratic majority in the House with a tight republican majority in
the Senate. We anticipate we may find democratic support in
the house to favor some of our positions, only to be faced with possible
rejection by the republican controlled Senate.
It is unclear at this time how much legislation can be passed, that the
President will sign since the Senate is not veto proof. GFVGA will address issues as they surface and
work closely with both the executive branch agencies and with Congress for the
benefit of our fruit and
We anticipate the primary national governmental issues for GFVGA in 2019 to be:
- Implementation of
the Farm Bill
- Disaster legislation
- Food safety regulations
- Environmental regulations
The Georgia Fruit
Growers Association will monitor and engage the debate as appropriate during 2019. The association will work
under the general guidance as established
in this Position Paper.
Should additional issues surface during
the year, or further refinement of GFVGA’s
is required, the Executive Committee and/or
the Board of Directors will address these items as required in 2019.
- Labor and Immigration Reform – This
been the association’s number one National
issue for the past twenty years. With the democratic control of the House, and
the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Lindsey Graham, who has worked
closely with ag, there is potential to have some movement on immigration
related legislation. We now have two
members of the Georgia Delegation that have increased influence in this debate,
Congressman Doug Collins is Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and
Congressman Sanford Bishop is Chairman of the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee. As we work with our champions in this legislative debate, GFVGA’s
policy continues to
support the following items
relates to labor and immigration reform:
- To support immigration reform legislation that includes provisions providing legal status of current farm workers and a new (or reformed) guest-worker program.
- The guest-worker program should include:
- Administration at USDA
- Authorization of workers to be in the U.S. for a longer period
- Freedom of movement for workers to different employers
- Allowance of renewal visas for workers after return home
- Any proposed guest-worker program should establish wage rates at the "prevailing wage rate" rather than wages being set arbitrarily on the studies such as the "adverse effect wage rate" (AEWR).
- Simplified processing and administrative requirements for guest workers including clarification of transportation costs and fees paid by the grower prior to workers arriving at the farm.
- Continued support for H-2A regulatory reform until a new guest-worker legislation is passed
GFVGA will continue to monitor state and national immigration and labor reform legislation, and serve as the spokesperson for Georgia's fresh produce industry in this area.
- Trade – GFVGA
supports ‘free’ trade if it is ‘fair’ trade.
Fruit and vegetable production is a $1.4 billion dollar industry
at the farm gate in Georgia with over 200,000 acres in production. Therefore,
it is critical that the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provides an effective,
near-term relief against unfairly traded Mexican fruits and vegetables
threatening the survival of Georgia farm production in our nation.
Since 2000, most of the growth in Mexican agricultural imports into the U.S. is from fresh fruits and vegetables. To a great extent, Mexican fruit and vegetable producers have been able to achieve extraordinary growth in recent years because of unfair Mexican subsidies, sale prices that are significantly below costs of production, low cost of labor (U.S. - $10/hr; Mexico - $10/day) and little to no regulatory requirements as compared to the U.S. EPA, FDA OSHA USDOL and others.
Congress passed the Trade Priority and Accountability Act (TPAA) in 2015 which provided for, "eliminating practices that adversely affect trade in perishable or cyclical products, while improving import relief mechanisms to recognize the unique characteristics of perishable and seasonable goods."
GFVGA will seek and administrative solution to Mexico's unfair trade practices, or petition Congress to uphold the TPAA and defeat the USMCA.
- Other – GFVGA continues to monitor and review legislation that may affect our
industry. Several of the agencies
and legislative avenues that will
be monitored include:
- Food Safety – GFVGA will work closely with other industry organization in reviewing the proposed rules and/or rule changes that should be altered, changed or eliminate. Our goal continues to allow for a risked based, commodity-specific approach, based on the best available science.
- Farm Bill Implementation – As the 2018 Farm Bill's policies and regulation are developed, GFVGA will comment and engage on areas of extreme importance to our growers, such as the SCRI, Block Grant program and others.
- Reauthorization of Child Nutrition Standards – GFVGA strongly supports the reauthorization of the current child nutrition standards. We will work with the industry in shaping nutrition policy that ensures that school programs include at least a 1/2 cup of a fruit or vegetable at every meal. The association supports the need for adequate funding to be provided, or maintained, in these key nutrition programs.
- Burdensome Oversight and Regulatory Control – GFVGA shall monitor and identify agency regulatory guidelines and rule changes which may have a negative impact on our growers and businesses.
- Prevent Government Regulation of Sustainability – While the 2005 Farm Bill included a definition of "sustainable agriculture", the federal government has not established guidelines. GFVGA will work to insure any sustainability programs developed should be voluntary and developed based on sound science, cost effectiveness and not generate a competitive advantage of any area of the country.
As other issues surface, GFVGA will address and monitor our position at that time.