Members of the Florida and Texas congressional delegations recently urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reverse its decision to administratively suspend juice content standards for imported grapefruit. The delegations also requested information regarding the circumstances of the suspension, which was allegedly made without a proper rulemaking process, and for which Congress was not notified. The request was led by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.
“We write to urge you to immediately reverse a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) decision to suspend Section 8e grapefruit juice content standards for imported grapefruits via marketing order “Patch #65,” delegation members stated in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Additionally, we seek to understand why the USDA implemented this regulatory patch without public notification or input.”
“The suspension of grapefruit juice standards for imported grapefruits poses a serious threat to American growers and undermines their ability to compete in the American market at a pivotal time,” the letter continued. “In recent months and years, our grapefruit growers have been severely impacted by natural disasters and citrus diseases. Now, this suspension allows low quality grapefruit products to flood our market, and forces our growers to compete against low-cost, subsidized imports. This regulatory patch is discriminatory in nature, as substandard grapefruit products can now be imported, meanwhile, American-grown grapefruits must still meet juice content standards. Additionally, as these imported grapefruits are of poor quality due to their low juice content, American consumers may become averse to purchasing grapefruits, as the substandard imported products could adversely impact the entire market due to unmet consumer expectations.”
The delegations also asked Vilsack for a written response to the following questions:
- Why did USDA implement Patch #65?
- Which authority did the USDA use to suspend the Section 8e juice content standards for imported grapefruits?
- Was this patch implemented at the request of a federal government agency? If so, which agency?
- Why did the USDA implement Patch #65 without soliciting public comments or notifying Congress?
- Was this patch implemented as part of an agreement with, or an effort to secure an agreement with, a foreign government or entity? If so, please explain the context for the issuance of this patch.
Source: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
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