Farm groups urge conferees to enforce new ‘Buy American’ requirements

A coalition of farm groups has written the leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees asking them to include a provision in the Senate bill that would require strict enforcement of the “Buy American” requirements for federal nutrition programs.

In the letter dated Thursday, the groups wrote, “Section 12622 of the Senate-passed bill requires the secretary of Agriculture to fully enforce the existing Buy American requirements applicable to domestic food assistance programs administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).”

“Further, the provision would require the secretary to report to Congress within 180 days on actions taken by the department to meet the existing Buy American requirements.”

The farm leaders added, “Despite Congress first passing the Buy American provision regarding school food purchases in 1988, the Congressional intent has been thwarted since the Buy American provision has been largely unenforced by USDA over the last 30 years.”

“Today, over 80 percent of the apple juice purchased by schools is from China, 60-70 percent of the fish sticks served in schools are made from fish caught on Russian vessels and processed in China, and schools in more than half of the country, (including the two largest peach producing states), have purchased Chinese canned peaches.

“We have recently started to document an increase of grass-fed beef entering our school feeding programs from South America,” the letter said.

“Not only do our children deserve the best food, but also American taxpayers deserve to know that their funds are used to support U.S. jobs and businesses. Section 12622 is a provision that is truly a win-win and strengthens the overall goals of the 2018 farm bill.”

–The Hagstrom Report