Senators Larry Craig (R-ldaho) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Congressmen Chris Cannon (R-Utah] and Howard German (D-Calif.) reintroduced the AgJOBS bill in February. The bills attracted broad support in the last Congress, according to those at the American Nursery & Landscape Association [ANLA), but neither was scheduled for a vote prior to the November elections. The bills detail reforming the H-2A guest worker program and allow trained and experienced nursery workers who lack proper work authorization to earn the right to permanent legal status through prospective work and lawful behavior.
“If we do not have a dependable workforce now and in the future, American specialty agriculture as we know it will little by little disappear to other countries,” says ANLA President Peter Orum of Midwest Groundcovers. “We want the jobs that rely on agriculture – jobs in processing, packing, transportation, equipment, farm lending, insurance – jobs that are filled by Americans, to stay here too.”
No Bulb Tariff Rise In Sight
Thanks to industry efforts by growers and the Society of American Florists (SAF), bulbs imported from the European Union have been taken off a list targeted for tariff increases. The proposed increases would have raised bulb import taxes and put United States growers at a disadvantage.
The example given by SAF shows tulip bulb tariffs would have skyrocketed from 89 cents per 1,000 bulbs to $9 per 1,000 under the previously proposed increases.
The proposal was in conjunction with continued negotiations between the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office CUSTR] and the European Union over access to European rice markets. The bulb increase proposal was part of a retaliatory move on the part of the USTR, according to SAF.
Johanns Confirmed As Ag secretary
The United States Senate confirmed Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns in January as the new secretary to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to replace outgoing secretary Ann Veneman. Johanns grew up on an Iowa dairy farm and has worked for farmers and businesses throughout his political career.
He detailed his Fiscal Year 2006 budget for the USDA in February, decreasing the outlays from $94.9 billion in 2005 to $94.6 billion in 2006. Of his projections for next year, Johanns hopes to implement crop insurance reforms to enhance disaster crop insurance coverage and reduce costs to deliver the program.
Copyright Meister Media Worldwide Mar 2005
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