Current Activities / News
APG Elects 2017 Board
The 2017 APG Board of Directors election ballots have been tallied, and the results are: Re-elected incumbents: Adam Orandi, Adam Orandi Orchards and Brian Watte, George Watte & Sons. New Board members: James Nicholsof Nichols Farms; Richard Searle of Searle Ranch in Arizona; Justin Wylieof First Associate Ranch; and Jim Zion of A&P Growers. Both James and Justin are graduates of LeadOn, the APG Leadership Program. Richard Searle has been a member of APG since its inception in 2009.
For Immediate Release
U.S. International Trade Commission Renders Affirmative Determination in Five-Year (Sunset) Review of Antidumping Duty Order Against U.S. Imports of Raw In-Shell Pistachios from Iran
FRESNO, Calif., June 2, 2017–The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) determined today, by a unanimous vote of 5 to 0, that revoking the U.S. antidumping duty order on imports of raw in-shell pistachios from Iran would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury to the U.S. pistachio industry within a reasonably foreseeable time. Therefore, the U.S. antidumping duty order on imports of raw in-shell pistachios from Iran will therefore remain in place.
The antidumping duty order was first imposed by the United States in 1986 as the result of a successful petition filed by U.S. pistachio growers and processors. The order, which imposes special import duties of 241.14 percent on U.S. imports of Iranian pistachios, has been instrumental in allowing the U.S. industry to thrive since that time.
Dumping is the practice of selling goods in export markets for prices that are lower than in the producer's home market or below the cost of production. International law provides for antidumping duties to remedy such behavior when it threatens or causes material injury to producers in the export market. Orders imposing such duties must be reviewed periodically to determine whether they continue to be justified.
Generally, such "sunset" reviews are conducted every five years, but under U.S. law, the time during which imports are prohibited by a trade embargo are not counted. This was the second "sunset" review of the pistachio order against Iran since 1986.
The reasoning behind today's decision will not be known until June 25, when the USITC will release its full report.
American Pistachio Growers is pleased the Commissioners vote continues to maintain the existing tariffs on imported product. American Pistachio Growers Executive Director Richard Matoian stated, “We are pleased with this decision. We believe we had provided the necessary evidence the American pistachio industry would be harmed by imported products from Iran, and today the Commission, with its vote, has agreed with our position.”
Sunset Review Questionnaire
APG previously announced that the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) was planning to mail its Sunset Review questionnaire to a number of pistachio growers and handlers. They have informed us that these questionnaires were sent out. If you have received the questionnaire, APG strongly urges you to respond. We know that this is neither an easy questionnaire nor one that you can quickly fill out, but in order to defend our industry, it requires your attention.
For assistance, the USITC has provided a name and contact information in the questionnaire —they are there to help you answer difficult questions. If you are not satisfied with the USITC staff person’s response then we urge you to contact either Lorren Walker (202-266-3999) or Bob Schramm (202-266-3900), at Schramm, Williams & Associates.
Return your completed questionnaire to the USITC, and also be sure to forward a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. Adduci is APG’s legal trade firm, representing our members on this issue. They will keep your information confidential.
Antidumping Raw Inshell Sunset Review
APG is preparing for the sunset review of the antidumping order on raw inshell pistachios. The next event will be responding to U.S. International Trade Commission questionnaires which will be sent by USITC to U.S. growers and processors, U.S. pistachio importers, and Iranian exporters and processors in early 2017. Responding to the questionnaires is not difficult once the instructions are carefully read through. APG will make support available to members for answering the questionnaires. It is important that the U.S. industry have at least 50 percent of growers and all the processors respond to the questionnaire. Following the completion of the questionnaire phase, the USITC will release the staff report, followed by preheating briefs. Sometime in April 2017 there will be a preheating conference, followed by the USITC hearing. This is the first pistachio sunset review since 2005 because President Obama imposed import sanctions on Iranian imports including pistachios; the law prohibits a review if there is an embargo. How President-elect Trump will administer the so-called Iran nuclear agreement is yet to be determined. During his campaign, Trump stated he would “…rip it up.” In addition, in November, shortly after Congress returned following the elections, the U.S. House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming majority of 419 to 1 for a 10-year reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act. Neither the Iran nuclear agreement nor the Iran Sanctions Act involves sunset reviews although there is pressure to re-impose an embargo if Iran violates the nuclear agreement.
California New Minimum Wage Requirements
On January 1, 2017, new minimum wage requirements went into effect in California, which increased the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour. It’s important to note that the minimum wage increase is based upon the number of employees employed. As a result, many small businesses will not be required to increase the minimum wage for 2017.
To learn more, read the memo from the CA Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the DIR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s), especially as it relates to the determination of employment size. For more information on the CA minimum wage, visit the DIR website at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_minimumwage.htm.
President-Elect Donald Trump Tax Reform
If the 115th Congress, which starts January 3, 2017, seriously considers tax reform, it will have not only President-elect Trump’s tax reform legislation to debate but more importantly, Speaker Paul Ryan’s tax reform legislation. Tax reform legislation has been considered by Congress for the last several years but the Obama Administration did not provide any sincere interest in the tax proposals. Now for the first time, both the Congress and the new administration will seriously debate a tax reform bill starting in 2017. Trump’s campaign tax propoal did not have any direct agricultural provisions, but he has proposed repealing the estate tax. Since farming is a capital intensive investment, his estate tax repeal proposal is expected to receive support from members of congress with a large number of farming constituents.
Food Safety – FSMA
Food Safety Modernization Act Implementation
For those food facility businesses that are considered large by FDA (over 500 employees), compliance with the FSMA Preventive Controls rule (handler rule) has been in effect since September 19th, 2016. FDA extended compliance dates for some provisions within the Preventive Controls (handler responsibilities) and Produce Safety rules (grower responsibilities), such as facilities solely engaged in packing and/or holding activities conducted on raw agricultural commodities (RACs) that are produce and/or nut hulls and shells and for certain facilities that would qualify as secondary activity farms except for the ownership of the facility. FDA recently published draft guidance (165 pages) for industry relating to Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls. FDA is requesting comment on this draft document. Compliance with the Produce Safety rule for farms with more than $500,000 in average annual produce sales will begin in January 2018. For small farms with more than $250,000 in average annual produce sales but less than $500,000 in average annual produce sales, compliance will begin in January 2019. For very small farms with more than $25,000 in average annual produce sales but less than $250,000 in average annual produce sales, dcompliance will begin in January 2020.
With the election of President-elect Donald Trump, hopes for considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the final days of the Obama Administration have all but vanished. The day following the election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that TPP would not be brought before the Senate during the Lame Duck session. During the campaign, and recently candidate Trump repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with the agreement and promised to “rip up” the current negotiated text.
While problematic for industries, TPP is generally thought to be a good agreement for agriculture interests. For pistachios specifically, the agreement eliminates the high tariff on pistachios to Vietnam. The agreement is also backed by 72 percent of Vietnamese businesses.
While the status of the agreement is extremely uncertain, some TPP members have stated that they will pursue agreements with TPP members separately and entertain direct free trade agreement talks with China if the United States fails to approve the agreement.
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
The United States and the European Commission concluded their 15th negotiation session of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) in early October 2016 in New York City. While concern for pistachios consists of tariff elimination and aflatoxin testing, little progress was made toward finalizing the agreement generally. Great divides have been expressed regarding Europe’s insistence on the use and expansion of Geographical Indications (GIs), tariff cuts to trade sensitive items, market access concerns, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures. (GIs identify agricultural product or foodstuff as originating in the territory of a Party, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.)
While the commitment from U.S. trade negotiators is full tariff elimination for all agriculture products, Europe has not made the same level of commitment. With U.S. elections concluded, Obama Administration negotiators are tasked to complete as much of the agreement as possible before the new U.S. President is inaugurated. It is expected that most of 2017 will be lost in terms of finalizing T-TIP negotiations due to national elections occurring in both France and Germany.
Brexit - Its Effects on Trade and Agriculture
Brexit, the initiative of the British people to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union, recently hit a road block. A British court has determined that the June 2016 public referendum vote to remove the UK from European Union membership satisfies British law to move forward. The court ruled that Parliament must vote in favor of removing the country from the agreement for Brexit to be actionable. With the majority of Parliament against the exit, a timeline for Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, to initiate exit proceedings is uncertain. Additionally, the government has appealed the ruling to a higher court.
Provided Brexit moves forward, exit negotiations will be extremely complex. The UK and the rest of the global community must determine how to handle its relationship with regard to World Trade Organization strictures and other matters. Over the last five years, U.S. exports of pistachios to the UK have averaged $13 million, which is approximately four percent of all exports to Europe.