Sullivan pushing "Buy American" provision for US Farm Bill

Published on
August 8, 2018

A major piece of legislation focused on the U.S. agricultural sector is one step closer to becoming a law after the U.S. Senate appointed its conference committee members on 1 August.

Congress works to pass a farm bill every five years as it is a comprehensive piece of U.S. legislation covering agricultural and food policy issues. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) is working to make sure this year’s bill includes a provision that would benefit U.S. fishermen.

Sullivan successfully added an amendment to the Senate version of the bill that would require the Department of Agriculture to enforce "Buy American" regulations for the National School Lunch Program. That would mean any fish included in the program, which provides meals to students at public and private schools either for free or at a discounted rate, would have to be caught in U.S. waters.

“Providing American seafood will greatly enhance the quality of food served to our kids and expand markets for our fisherman,” the senator said in a press release last month. 

As the House version did not include Sullivan’s amendment, the conference committee will decide whether it will remain in the final bill.

The amendment is similar to a bill Sullivan and other senators championed in Congress two years ago.

Mike Anderson, Sullivan’s communications director, told SeafoodSource on Wednesday that the idea came from a meeting Sullivan had with fishermen and seafood processors. Much of the seafood used in U.S. school lunches is caught in Russia and processed in China.

“Russia has an embargo on our products, and yet it was brought to our attention that their products were not only coming into the U.S. but are being served in our schools with our tax dollars, so Senator Sullivan worked with his colleagues in the Senate to fix it,” Anderson said.

According to Politico, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), himself one of nine on the panel, is hoping Senate and House committee members can work through the August recess and produce a final bill shortly after Labor Day on 3 September. 

Congress is scheduled to return to Washington on 4 September.

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