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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 7, 2015 1:00am-3:01am EDT

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screeria -- nigeria. - national review
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host an idea summit examining conservatism. next, a hearing on seafood industry and regulations. louisiana senator david vitter has introduced legislation that would increase inspection standards on imported seafood to ensure foreign inspectors meet safety standards. this hearing is an hour and 20
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minutes. good afternoon. we're going to start our hearing today on the impact of federal labor and safety laws on the u.s. seafood industry. thanks for joining us today. we're going to be hearing from two panels of expert witnesses and stakeholders a federal panel who i'll introduce in a minute and then a stakeholder panel. i want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today to testify on these important issues. as anyone who has visited louisiana knows, we enjoy great quality seafood and that plays a major role in our culture and in our economy. and this is true for other states in the united states. it is an important part of our economy. in louisiana that seafood industry supports 20,000 jobs in the state with an annual
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economic impact of over $1.7 billion. more regionally, the gulf states produce 70% of the nation's oysters, 69% of domestic shrimp, and are a leading producer of domestic hard and soft shell blue crabs. more broadly, the seafood industry is responsible for creating jobs and revenue that support so many families along the gulf, in alaska and elsewhere, including the east coast and the west coast. seafood processors in louisiana and across the gulf coast rely on seasonable foreign workers to fill the most labor intensive positions throughout the sector. these workers come to the united states legally under the h2b visa program. many of these operations take place in small rural communities where access to a stable, reliable labor force can be extremely difficult. recently we've seen the difficulty of compliance with this program increase, most notably the department of labor's decision to stop
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accepting private wage rate surveys which has often forced businesses to reallocate their financial resources. and that has been a big, big cost increase for these businesses. another area that requires attention is ensuring the safety sf seafood that's being imported into the country. it is imperative that we ensure that foreign imports are playing by the same rules and regulations that our domestic producers operate under. that's one of the reasons i introduced the imported seafood safety standards act. this legislation increases inspection rates, quality standards, and penalties in order to protect american families. in closing, we need to make sure that federal regulations of all types, like the two areas i've
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highlighted, do not unfairly and negatively impact our small domestic seafood providers. what washington bureaucrats often fail to realize is that their rule making can literally put some small businesses like domestic seafood producers out of business so we need to focus on these and other regulatory areas. again, i thank everyone for being here today and i look forward to our discussion. with that i'll turn it over to our ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you to all of our panelists this afternoon for being here. as the chairman said, seafood is a big issue in my home state of new hampshire. just as it is in louisiana. even though we only have 18 miles of coastline, it is an industry that is important to the state, both because of our tourism industry and the
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fishing -- the pleasure boat fishing that goes on off the coast of new hampshire, but also because we have not only a small fishing industry, but we also have a fish processing industry in new hampshire. and mr. chairman, in the interest of brevity and because i have to leave early, i'm going to submit my full statement for the record but i just wanted to raise a couple of concerns. one is not directly related to this hearing, but since we're talking about seafood, i feel compelled to talk about the concerns that we have in new hampshire and the northeast relative to the fishing quotas that have been set by the department of commerce, and specifically by noaa. over the past few years, the federal government has found
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that the declining levels of cod in the gulf of maine have been dramatic. there is some disagreement about that among scientists and among the fishing industry, but they have set very dramatic, very low quotas that have almost totally decimated the fishing industry in new hampshire and, again, i appreciate that that's not the subject of today's hearing, but it is an issue that we are very concerned about and that i think it is something that we need to deal with because of its impact on our small business fishing fleet in new hampshire. the other issue that is relevant to the day's discussion is one that is having an impact in new hampshire as well. and that is the impact of creating a separate federal program to remove catfish inspection authority from the fda. as some of you probably already know, the 2008 farm bill transferred the inspection of catfish alone from fda to the department of agriculture, and it left the fda with the jurisdiction of all over seafood products. that means that all of our
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seafood processors that handle catfish will now be subject to two separate sets of regulations. this is a costly and unnecessary burden on these businesses. it will kill jobs and hurt economic development. and in fact, just the prospect of this regulation has put a freeze on job creation in some of those companies in new hampshire. one seafood company, highliner foods, which i have had the opportunity to tour, has put on hold the job expansion that they would like to do because of the uncertainty around these regulations. mr. chairman, i'd like to enter this letter from highliner foods, for the record. >> without objection. >> this duplicative regulation does not just affect the seafood
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industry. it is not really about food safety, i believe. it is an effort to set up trade barriers against foreign catfish that will dramatically affect not only the seafood processing business in new hampshire and this country, but it also could put us open to challenge at the wto and trade retaliation against other agricultural industries. so, mr. chairman, i have been working with other members of the senate to try to repeal this duplicative program. i hope we can do that. i think it is unnecessary and i hope that we will have the opportunity to do that and to further discuss this, not just in this committee but when we get to the floor of the senate. so thank you, again, to our panelists for being here and i look forward to the discussion today. >> thank you, senator shaheen. >> we'll now go to our federal panel of witnesses. i'll introduce both, then we'll hear their testimony and have discussion following their testimony. dr. steven solomon is deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the fda.
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he was appointed to that in april 2014. prior to his appointment, he served in several capacities at the fda since 1990. dr. solomon holds a dvm degree from ohio state university and a masters of public health from johns hopkins university. and prior to joining the fda, he owned and operated a private veterinary practice. and he will be followed by miss portia wu assistant secretary of the employment and training administration within the u.s. department of labor. she was appointed to that in april 2004 and she now leads that employment and training administration with its mission to address our nation's
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workforce needs through high-quality training and employment programs. prior to that, she held a number of positions in public, non-profit and private sector situations, including serving at the white house on the domestic policy council, a special assistant to the president for labor and workforce policy. miss wu holds a yale law school degree, and a degree from yale college, and a masters degree from cornell. is originally from albany, new york. welcome to both of you and we'll start with dr. solomon. >> good afternoon. chairman vitter, ranking member shaheen, i am dr. steve solomon, deputy director for associate affairs at the fda. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the agency's ongoing efforts to oversee the safety of the u.s. seafood supply. fda has a strong regulatory program in place to ensure the safety of both domestic and imported seafood. in fact, the hazard analysis and risk preventive control framework of fda seafood safety program is a basis for the preventive controls requirements
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for other fda regulated foods called for in the fda food safety moderation act, or fsma. the agency has a variety of tools to ensure compliance with seafood safety compliance, including inspections of both domestic and foreign processing facilities, 100% electronic screening of you will a imported products, examination and sampling of domestic seafood, and seafood offered for import in the united states. domestic surveillance sampling of imported products. inspection of seafood importers and foreign country program assessments. in today's testimony, i want to discuss the fda's regulatory framework for overseeing the safety of the u.s. seafood supply, emphasizing the agency's risk-based efforts with regard to imported seafood. processors of fish and fishery
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products are subject to fda's hazard analysis critical control point regulation. the regulation requires domestic and foreign processors of fish and fishery products to understand the food safety hazards associated with their process and product and require a preventive system to control for those hazards. every processor is required to have and implement a written haccp plan whenever a hazard analysis reveals one or more food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur. foreign processors who export seafood to the united states also have to -- apply to the haccp regulation. in addition, haccp regulations require importers to understand the hazards associated with the products they are importing, and to take positive steps to verify that the obtained shipments from foreign processors who comply with these requirements.
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in recent years, they've been reports of seafood in the united states being labeled with incorrect market names. fda's aware that there may be economic incentives for some seafood producers and retailers to misrepresent the identity of the seafood species that they sell to buyers and consumers. while seafood fraud is often an economic issue, we have heightened concerns when species substitution poses a public health risk. the agency has invested in significant scientific advancements to enhance its ability to identify seafood species using state of the art dna sequencing. fda is actively working to transfer this technology which will enable the seafood industry and others to monitor and test their products to confirm the species purchase is correct. turning now to imports specifically, it is the importer's responsibility to offer for entry into the united states a product that's fully
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compliant with all applicable u.s. laws. fda has numerous tools and authorities that enable the agency to take appropriate action regarding imported product. in recent years, the agency has significantly increased its number of foreign food inspections. furthermore, if fda requests to inspect a foreign facility, and is refused, fsma gave the agency the authority to not allow that facility's food submission into the united states. besides haccp inspection of foreign facilities, the agency also conducts surveillance of food offered for import at the border to check for compliance with u.s. requirements. fda reviews all import entries electronically prior to the product being allowed into the country. the agency has implemented an
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automated screening tool, the predict system, which significantly improves fda screening of imported food. predict utilizes the admissibility history of the firm or a specific product and incorporates the inherent risk associated with the product. for example, a predict review includes the facility inspection history, date of quality concerns, sample analytical findings and type of product that the firm offers for entry into u.s. commerce. based on this electronic screening, the agency will direct resources to the most critical entries that have the greatest impact on public health. another key regulatory tool for controlling imported goods is the import alert. import alert informed fda field personnel that the agency has sufficient evidence or other information about a particular product producer, shipper or importer, to believe that future shipments of an imported product may be violative.
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on the basis of that evidence, fda field personnel may detain the article that is being offered for import in the united states without physically examining the product. the agency has over 45 active seafood import alerts that focus on imports from certain firms, products, and/or countries based upon past violations. for example, the fda imposed a countrywide import alert on five applicable species in june 20007 due to the presence of unapproved animal drugs. these are subject to private laboratory testing before they allow the investment in commerce. finally, i'd like to note that the fda is working to better accomplish its mission to promote and protect the public
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health of the united states. as one example they have evaluated the country's laws for implementation of good agricultural practices. fda uses the information from country assessments that target better surveillance sampling of imported agriculture products, informed the planning of foreign seafood inspections, provided additional evidence for potential regulatory actions, and approved collaboration with foreign government and industry to achieve better compliance with fda's regulatory requirements. in closing, oversight of the safety of the u.s. food supply continues to be a top priority for fda. the agency has a strong regulatory program and place for seafood products. we'll continue to work with our domestic and international partners to ensure the safety of both domestic and imported seafood. thank you, again, for the opportunity to appear before you today, and i'd be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much, doctor.
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now we'll hear from ms. wu. welcome. >> thank you. chairman vitter, members of the committee, thank you for having me here today to discuss the program and the seafood industry. my name is porsha wu and i'm the assistant secretary at the department of labor. together, we administer the h2b program. allows employers to meet legitimate needs for temporary foreign workers. and the department takes very seriously the statutory responsibility to administer this program. and to ensure that u.s. workers have meaningful access to these job opportunities that their wages and working conditions are not adversely affected. these efforts help protect foreign born workers from exploitation. the department recognizes the vital role that the h2b program plays for the seafood industries.
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many seafood employers are multigenerational, family-owned businesses, and they're a source of cultural pride in coastal areas. the jobs these businesses provide are critical to local communities and create additional jobs in other related industries. and, mr. chairman, as you referenced, these businesses are often a remote or rural areas and they can struggle to attract and retain a sufficient workforce necessary to provide seafood products for the united states and for the world. thus, many do depend on temporary workers, including temporary foreign workers. over the last five years, employers in some of the largest seafood producing states, like louisiana and maryland were among the top ten users of the h2b program. last year, approximately 55% of the seafood jobs certified by
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the department of labor were located in the gulf coast states, ranging from shrimp boat deck hands in texas to seafood and crawfish processors and packagers in louisiana. we understand that seafood employers and others are impacted by the current annual 66,000 number cap on h2 b workers. that cap is set by congress. and we are, again, seeing demand nationwide that exceeds that cap. the department is committed to maintaining a fair and reliable application process for those who use the program. last week, in order to quickly reinstate the h2b program and to bring continuity to that program, the department of labor and homeland security jointly issued two new regulations. one is an interim final rule establishing the overall framework for the h2b program. i should note it's open for
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public comment until june 29th. the other is a final updated wage rule that allows the use of private wage surveys in certain circumstances in keeping with the recent court decision. these rules immediately restore processes for approving prevailing wage requests and labor certification applications so the program can continue to operate. they expand employer requirements for recruitment and consideration of u.s. workers. so united states workers have a fair shot at finding and applying for these jobs. it also permits employers in the seafood industry to continue to stagger the entry of their h2b workers into the united states. the regulations strengthen worker protections by clarifying employer obligations with respect to wages, working conditions and benefits that must be offered to h2b and u.s. workers alike. and finally, as i noted, the rules explicitly include the use of private wage surveys, which were restricted by a recent court decision. and so we set guidelines for how these employers, these surveys can now be used. and that includes state surveys often used in the seafood industry. both the department of labor and dhs are trying to ensure a smooth transition between the
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former regulations and the new rules. first and foremost, anyone who had already applied under the old rules or who were in line does not have to change anything. they will continue to operate under the prior regulations. second, the new regulations allow an expedited process for employers who have a start date of need before october 1st, 2015. so people will have time to quickly transition. in conclusion, the department of labor strives to maintain an h2b program that's both responsive to legitimate employer needs where qualified u.s. workers are not available. and to provide adequate protections for u.s. and foreign temporary workers. doing so is not only good for law-abiding employers, including employers in the seafood
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industry, but also for the many u.s. workers seeking jobs in fields that rely heavily on the program. thank you, again, for this opportunity and i look forward to answering your questions. >> okay. thank you. and we'll start with our questions. and let me begin with you on one of the topics you discussed directly. and that's private wage surveys. isn't it correct that the new rule you're describing greatly limits compared to past practice, greatly narrows and limits the use of private wage surveys? >> senator, it is true that in december last year, we had our previous rule allowed significant use of private wage surveys. that use was injoined by a court in december of last year. and the court's opinion lays out a great deal of reasoning including concerns about how private wage surveys might undercut wages and some other reasons that, for example, surveys that use only
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entry-level wages are not permissible under the law. they found that to be a violation of the law. at that time, we had to immediately suspend the use of surveys because of the court's order. however, with our new rule, we allow surveys in limited circumstances. there are some, and again, it's in keeping with the court's order, we believe, where, for example, an occupation isn't well represented. we also allow for state conducted surveys. many states do this. there are basic criteria in keeping with the court's order. for example, as i mentioned, you have to look at average wages in an industry not simply entry-level wages. but we believe this may be an opportunity for many in the seafood industry to take advantage of this provision. we actually, i was talking with some of your folks from louisiana today, and we were
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putting out some assistance next week to explain to people how they can use these surveys. in the transition provisions, we also said that, for example, if you already got your certification but haven't brought your workers in and wondering can i go back and get a new survey wage as long as it complies with our basic criteria, we put in a provision to allow people to go back and adjust that wage. >> well, as you know, there's a lot of concern that the new system is too narrow and narrows the use of these surveys way beyond anything that would be absolutely required or demanded by the court. what's your reaction to that critique, which i think is a fair one? >> thank you, senator. i think we believe that the new provisions are in keeping with the court's order. i should note that the state provided surveys, frankly may be getting criticism from the other side going beyond what the court allowed. i do think it may be an avenue that industries, particularly the seafood industry could take advantage of and have taken advantage of it in the past.
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>> does use of these surveys allow for recognizing differences which exist from one local area to others within the state? >> yes, senator, it could. it's up to the state as to what level of detail is conducted in the surveys. they certainly could provide a survey where there are differences in locality. obviously with different sorts of tasks in the industry. and the department is not in the business of dictating how employers should pay their wage, or not. i know some employers, for example, use peace rate. they'll be able to continue doing so. >> okay. and dr. solomon, my understanding that in 2014, only about 2.77% of all seafood imports were inspected. do you think that percentage is adequate?
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and if not, what does the fda plan to do differently? >> so the seafood safety system i described during my testimony is multifacetted. so there's many components of it. first, it's putting the hazard analysis critical control point regulations in place which puts the burden on the processor to produce safe product. then we have oversight by doing foreign inspections of them. then we also conduct inspections of regulations by the importers. so the testing that takes place at the border is a verification activity or a surveillance activity to try and find, if there's any flaws in this system and how it's working and to identify them and verification activities. we test at different rates a sampling. so taking generic rates for seafood, we test higher rates for certain products, certain commodities, higher risk areas, and much higher rates than that because we want to have additional verification for
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those particular aspects, which pose the greatest safety concerns. >> i understand all of that. i didn't mean to suggest by my question that you just do one thing. you just stop 2.77% at the border tested. so as part of that overall effort, do you think the net inspection rate of 2.77% is adequate? >> examination at the border at the verification activity at the rates we do, we think is a viable control measure in light of all of the other measures that we have in place. >> so you have no plans to increase it? >> with the resources we currently have, we would not just increase sampling testing. if the agency had additional resources, we would focus on all the aspects of the framework -- >> why would you increase it if you have more resources? >> greater oversight in how the system's working, we would do
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more foreign inspections, importer examinations. but, again, not on a universal basis, on a risk basis. >> the level you do now is not optimal. >> we think we actually have very few food-borne illnesses associated with seafood products. but with more resources, the agency could do more. >> okay. i -- i'm just trying to understand you're suggesting it's adequate, but in the next sentence, you say you'd certainly do more with more money. >> so it's a risk basis in terms of looking at the products that are coming in. with additional resources, we could look at lower levels of risk. we're looking at the highest levels of risk now. >> a batch of actually tested and rejected seafood imports has been simply shopped to another
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port of entry. what in your overall system today categorically prevents that? >> so we have a notification system. when we refuse an entry that electronic notification system not only notifies customs and border protection, but all the other fda district offices imports. >> and so how is that batch tagged indelibly so that that notification is meaningful so that those other ports can identify the same batch we're talking about. >> so as you may be aware, we've been looking -- working for many years to try to get a marking rule that would provide that marking of the product. that is not in place yet. but right now, we do notifications based off the data that we have on who the importer, is what the commodity line is, and make sure everyone is aware about that shipment was refused.
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>> so if they -- there isn't a set marking rule. so if they change the packaging or any of the markings, they could very possibly get away with what i'm describing? >> the system is not foolproof. i agree with you. but we do do notifications. >> okay. well, i would suggest that's a bigger hole than simply saying it's not absolutely foolproof. but we'll pursue that. senator shaheen? >> thank you, mr. chairman. dr. solomon, as i said in my opening statement, i'm very concerned that we are in the process of setting up a new program under the department of agriculture to separate cat fish out from all other seafood and inspect them separately. i think it's duplicative, and i wondered if you could talk about the program that has been operating under fda, which up until now had the responsibility for inspecting cat fish.
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can you tell us how it's functioned? and whether or not cat fish consumption has posed a risk to public health? is there a reason to set up a separate program? >> so the last part of the question, cat fish is not one of the species that we particularly target. controls in place that have been adequately controlling issues associated with cat fish. >> so, and just to be clear, it's not the fda or the department of labor or -- usda that has set up this program separately. it was congress that did this. and the farm bill. but there wasn't a safety risk
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to human health from catfish that triggered this effort. is that how you would analyze the situation? >> i'm not aware of any specific safety hazards unique to cat fish. >> thank you. and i know it may be hard for you to put a cost figure on the inspection of cat fish under the fda jurisdiction that it may take you some time to come up with that. it's my understanding that right now the usda's catfish inspection program, it's estimated that it will cost about $14 million a year to operate. so i'm going to ask you to take
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for the record and try to get for this committee the cost of the inspection of cat fish under fda jurisdiction if you would. >> we'd be happy to provide that back to you. >> okay. thank you. miss wu? >> i appreciate the fact that the department is in a challenging position relative to how to make the visa program work given that we have not yet taken up comprehensive immigration reform, which would go a long way towards addressing this challenge. but in the meantime, we do have small businesses in my state, we heard from the chairman in louisiana who are using the h2b program, and are confused about how the new rules will affect their business. so can you talk a little bit about how you're addressing outreach to the small businesses affected? >> absolutely, senator. as i noted, we have a bunch of fact sheets on our website. we're also doing some sort of
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webinars and outreach next week to talk with people. we always -- we have frequent listening sessions. we recognize the use of this program by small business. we're happy to answer any questions. we have very detailed questions about, you know, if i already submit in my application what happens to me now. and i think as i've noted, for people who have already admitted their application for this whole court case in april, they can just keep going along. they got approved, they can keep going along, running the program the way they were going to do it this summer. there will be changes in the future. for those who want workers before october 1st, we put in sort of expedited protsz. as you may know, dhs administers the cap, but the cap was hit fairly early this year. but we continue to process requests for labor certification because there are some exceptions. we're happy to answer any questions.
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we are doing outreach to small businesses. >> and so when you advise those webinars that you're doing, do you notify small business administration so they can get out, get it out to the small business development centers to share that with other businesses around the country? how do you get the word out that you're doing those kinds of webinars? >> well, first and foremost, we use the contacts list we have of the users of the program. we focus on the contacts we have. but if you have other suggestions or if you're concerned about the employers in your state. we'd be happy to conduct. who follow these regulations closely. we make sure to get the word out to them. and we have regular listening sessions with them to hear about their concerns. i will note that the new comprehensive rule is an interim rule. we took comments on a similar rule in 2011, 2012, made some
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changes in part, in recognition of the concerns of small business. we are taking comments, again, and we very much welcome people's comments on how we can improve the program and make it usable for them. >> if anybody has applied for h2b visas in the past, will they get a notification of proposed rule changes? of various outreach efforts that you're doing automatically because they're on your list? >> they should. they should. i will check with my operations. >> behind you, they're nodding. so hopefully that means that any new hampshire company that's applied in the past will get those notifications. >> yes, that's our hope. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. next is senator ayotte. >> thank you, chairman. i wanted to follow up on the question that senator shaheen
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had asked dr. solomon about the cat fish program. as far as i can tell, the u.s. fda handles seafood inspections for all other forms of seafood, correct? >> that is correct. >> and so there's no reason why you couldn't continue to handle independently the inspection as you did before congress on its own, created this duplicative inspection regime, which is actually a low-risk species, correct? >> we are currently, since that rule's not in effect yet, we are currently handling all of the catfish inspections. >> and in the end, as i understand it, it's been interesting to me, we have nine gao reports on this topic. and those nine reports consistently recommend eliminating the newly created by congress usda program that as i understand, you wouldn't know the numbers, but as i understand has already spent $20 million, not one fish has been inspected.
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obviously the fda has handled the inspection of seafood for a long time. and here we are in the congress going to already spend another usda trying to stand up, duplicative inspection. already spent $20 million on it. it's going to cost usda, the estimate is $14 million a year. to continue doing what you already do quite well. so i don't know if you've had a chance to look at these gao reports, have you? >> i've not nine of them, but i have read some. >> and do you agree that you can handle the inspection of cat fish? we don't really need another office to inspect catfish? >> the programs worked effectively as far from fda's perspective. >> right. so this is a great example of government run amuck truthfully. the notion that we already have the fda doing its job, inspecting seafood, and to carve out just cat fish so that we can spend millions of dollars more to have the usda have another office inspecting catfish, which
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you're already doing quite well for one species of fish. you know, these are the kinds of things i think people look at washington and they say, what are y'all doing down there? so i really hope, you know, that we will have some common sense on this and allow you to continue to do what you've been doing historically rather than creating another continuing to plunk millions of dollars into a duplicative program. i also want to follow up on the h2b issue. i share, obviously, i serve in new hampshire with senator shaheen. and what i have heard in new hampshire, many of our seasonal businesses depend on these
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workers. as we look to the application process next year, you know, given that this is, people have to plan on what their workforce needs are. >> thank you, senator. it has been frustrating. i know. it's been frustrating for us trying to run a program. i'm sure it's been frustrating and frightening for a lot of small businesses when these court decisions come along and halt us from doing something we have been doing. and the program, they could suspend this. it has really been very difficult. that is why we asked for a stave of the court sword so we could keep running the program this spring. and now we've issued comprehensive rules even though the department of labor believes we have the authority to do this
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on our own. because of the legal challenges, we jointly issue these regulations with dhs. so i think we feel like we're at least insulating ourselves from that level of legal attack. unfortunately, we do continue to see attacks from all sides on this program. but we hope that brings some certainty and stability. and we also are trying to include some provisions that will make things easier over the long run for businesses using this program. >> well, i really appreciate that. because just the feedback i've gotten from businesses in new hampshire on the program is that under the administration, it's become more complicated, more difficult, more paperwork. and as i look at the new h2b interim rules on april 29th, more than 100 pages. and i see the burden on employers increasing. so i hope when you look at this that we need to decrease the burden on employers, not create more paperwork. especially when many of them, as you know, this is something that they do every year, and they've
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been in the program already. so thank you for being here today. >> thank you. next, we'll go to senator cantwell. >> thank you, mr. chair. and dr. solomon, i wanted to ask you about russian pollock. last fall i sent a letter to the fda commission requesting to fix this labeling problem. the product from pollock and not just alaska pollock. the change would prevent russian pollock from being labored as united states alaskan pollock. we requested the change in 2011, now it's may 2015. do you agree the term would give consumers the impression that the product is from alaska? >> so the determination about the species naming is handled by our center for food safety and applied nutrition. they have what's called a seafood list. i know your submission, that issue is before that group. they look at both the species name. they work with -- they look at
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the dna sequencing that talks about these different species. and i know they have that issue under review. >> and so when will we hear about that decision? >> i know they're actively working on it. i don't have that. we'll be happy to try and get back with you. >> okay. do you think in your view as the russian pollock industry, a sustainable fishing, you know, industry specifically, scientifically, i guess i would say. >> so i don't think i'm qualified to speak on that. we look at fish from a food safety perspective. and we're not, you know, related to the trade issues or other issues associated with it. >> well, i think, you know, we see things, obviously, about it. they're known for labor issues, just last month, the russian pollock catcher process sank in the bering sea.
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only 63 crew members survived, 69 were lost. 40% of the crew were there illegally from countries like ukraine, latvia, and so these lives are being lost because of lack of training and survival skills. and then, consumers are seeing a product that's labeled alaska. and not really alaskan pollock. we hope you'll get a decision about this and look at the way the industry is operating in the right consumers have to understand this product. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> okay. thank you, both, very much. we'll excuse you and call up our second panel of witnesses as they get situated, i'm going to go ahead and be introducing all three of them. we're really pleased to be joined by dr. mike strain, the commissioner of the louisiana department of agriculture and forestry who was elected to that position in 2007.
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sworn to office in january 2008. dr. strain holds a doctorate in medicine from lsu and opened the claiborne hill veterinary hospital in covington soon after he received that degree. we're also joined by mr. john p. connolly, president of the national fisheries institute, america's leading trade oh association advocating for the full seafood supply chain. john was chairman of the international coalition of fisheries associations and board trustee of the marine stewardship council and currently a board member of the international seafood sustainability organization. and we're also joined by mr. frank randall, president of randall incorporated. frank is a seafood processor from lafayette, louisiana. over 40 years of experience in the industry. and also owns randall's restaurant in lafayette,
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louisiana. welcome to all of you, and we'll start with dr. strain. >> thank you. good afternoon, chairman. thank you very much for allowing us to discuss this. >> again, mr. chairman, thank you very much for the opportunity to come here and speak today. my name is dr. mike strain. i'm the louisiana commissioner of the department of agriculture of forestry and aqua culture. i'm testifying on behalf of the louisiana department of agriculture. state department's are responsible for a wide variety of programs, including food safety, combatting the introduction and spread of plant and animal diseases and fostering the economic vitality of our rural communities. our department oversees all agriculture activities within the state, including the markets for products produced for our farmers and, especially, when we here to talk about today in the seafood industry which falls under my purview. first of all, i would like to
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thank miss wu and other members of the department of labor who allowed us to come to visit with them on march 23rd about this issue and have a very open and frank discussion. also with me today is the director of the national association of state departments of agriculture, which i'm a vice president. my statement is also consistent with the position of the national -- the national association of the state departments of agriculture, representing the commissioner, secretaries and directors across all 50 states and four territories. the communication of sound, public policy and programs. while promoting and protecting the environment and our consumers. in order to feed our increased u.s. population, we must have a stable agricultural labor supply. the ability of seasonal businesses to keep the doors open and retain their full-time u.s. employees relies upon having successful peak seasons.
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having successful peak seasons. during the busy seasons, companies must supplement the permanent staff with temporary seasonal employees. employers spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in their efforts to fill these positions. even in today's tough economic climates, there are not enough local workers available to fill all the temporary seasonal positions. and efforts to obtain u.s. workers to relocate for temporary seasonal employment have not been successful. as a result, businesses must utilize the h2b guest worker program to find seasonal workers and workers for their peak workforce needs. the program is vitally important for many industries, including forestry, nursery, landscaping outdoor amusement, restaurant and hospitality, tourism,
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livestock, horse training, and many others. it's in a critical situation because seafood processors traditionally cannot fill the temporary or seasonal vacancies with u.s. workers. many businesses are located in rural areas that do not have sufficient populations to supply their extra workforce needs. many that are willing to work want full time year-round jobs. they depend on processors operating for their own jobs and business operations. in 2014, louisiana hired 5,546 h2b workers. for each worker, it is estimated that 4.64 american jobs are created and sustained. hurricanes katrina and rita, floods on the mississippi river,
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spilling water through the spillways and the basin and drought. the h2b regulations released on april 29th, 2015, by the u.s. department of labor and the u.s. department of homeland security could impact an already fragile industry's economic competitiveness. they had to weather several years of regulatory instability. the h2b wage rule at the department of labor adopted in january 19, 2011 and imposed new untested methodology that would significantly increase cost for small and seasonal small businesses. after being blocked by congress in april 2013, the dol issued an interim rule that issued the same methodology for setting wages but recognized the importance of staged wage surveys. the new rule released two weeks ago is virtually identical to the rule blocked by congress causing additional obstacles from employers in the program. in december 2014, the department
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of labor announced it would no longer allow the private wage rate surveys, including louisiana. my staff has spent countless hours gathering information to depict the wages that the industry is paying in our geographic location. this action forced employers into accepting higher prevailing wages, and many seafood processor haves not received the workers they need. seafood processing has begun early in the spring and with with the crawfish industry, especially, it is time sensitive. these actions have a negative impact on the seafood industry and related commerce sectors such as restaurants, et cetera. two months ago, the lsu
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ago center -- ag center conducted analysis of the recent h2b policy changes from the u.s. department of labor from the louisiana seafood industry. the assessment was conducted in response to potential changes in the cost and availability of labor stemming from a mid-year cap on h2 b permits and the announcement that it would no longer accept the private wage rate surveys. results indicate that for every $1 of employee compensation created by the seafood preparation and packaging industry in louisiana, employee compensation increased by $2.06 across all sectors of louisiana economy. this includes the original $1 of employee compensation created by the seafood preparation and packaging industry, plus $1.06 of induced multiplier effects across all sectors of the economy. total income generated by h2b visa workers in the louisiana seafood industry is estimated between $36 million and $43 million. based on the assumption of $35 million in revenue, the loss of this revenue for any given number of firms would lead to a reduction in labor income across the entire louisiana economy. eventually leading to a number of companies closing.
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the economic impact of two processing facilities closing is $5.3 million. and with five firms shutting down, 13.3. louisiana has already faced a number of processing facilities closing due to hurricanes and oil spills. and the industry simply cannot sustain -- be sustained without a stable workers. i'm certain not only seafood industry in louisiana impacted, but the entire industry will be affected by these actions. our markets are subject to particularly fierce competition from abroad. for example, the chinese have been extremely aggressive in trying to corner the u.s. crawfish market. this predatory practice and behavior began in 1993 and has continued. the chinese presently control over 15% of the market and capture even a larger market share if our producers are put a further competitive price and labor disadvantage. without temporary h2b guest seasonal workers, the processors
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would shut down, eliminating the primary market for our fishermen and our farmers to sell their catch. as a result, foreign seafood would gain a stronger foot hold in the u.s. market and our fishermen and farmers who produce and harvest crawfish, oysters and catfish would be devastated and a key segment of the louisiana economy crippled. once we lose the processors, we would not be able to depend on them coming back in future years. therefore the losses because of the processors scale back and do not have the ability to operate during the season will have irreparable and bad repercussions now in the future. the short-term consequence of an immediate expulsion of this vital segment of the workforce would cause a production crisis and a wide variety of seafood processing, field and nursery crops, sugar processing, forestry, livestock, restaurant industry and others. this would leave the united states and the state of louisiana no alternative but to import many food products for
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food countries, from countries with surplus foreign labor. this is unacceptable. we must do everything in our power to grow and support america's jobs and economy. we're asking for your help. we must streamline and expedite the h2b process. we need a working system without overburdensome rules, unrealistic timetables and outright road blocks. neglecting the labor needs of agriculture will raise the cost and the production in a way that harms farmers, fishers and industries throughout america. i appreciate your time and encourage you to work with us to find workable solutions. ways that we can facilitate rather than making it so difficult to where our processors and our industries cannot operate. where we're at currently, we have a large crawfish harvest. and we don't have enough peelers
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to process it. and that puts us in a severe economic state, and i'm sure mr. randall will address that, as well. thank you. >> thank you very much, dr. strain. we'll now go to john connolly. welcome. >> thank you, chairman vitter, for inviting the national fisheries institute to present our views today. our comments will involve a brief introduction. the economics of the american seafood industry and the seafood safety system and the results. the nation's most comprehensive trade association, our members include harvesters like those on deadliest catch, importers who enable us to enjoy seafood around the globe. to processors that put fish in a form consumers recognize, to retailers and restaurants. we do represent all geographic regions, and we are particularly proud to have had the late louisiana seafood leader of motivated seafood as our chairman. on h2b visas, essential to seafood processors.
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senator mikulski captured many of the senators concerns in a letter last week. quote, the lack of available temporary foreign workers has caused chaos among businesses in maryland that depend on the h2b program. more than 40% of maryland's seafood processors have been unable to get the workers they need for the 2015 crab season. i think dr. strain pretty much said it all. and i think that's reflective of the rest of the seafood community in the u.s. on economics, seafood is the most globally traded food commodities. that benefits our fishing communities as we send high-quality and bountiful american seafood to northern asia and throughout europe. also benefits the more than 525,000 americans that process, distribute and sell imported seafood. those jobs found in nearly every state, an important reminder that trade benefits the u.s. not just when we export. seafood trade also benefit
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farm states in two ways. 18% of all soy goes into fish farms, many of those fish farms in asia. and to the countries with which american farmers increasingly seek to send our ag products, are countries that export seafood to america. we cannot expect to open asian markets to u.s. pork beef poultry if we shut off access to our seafood markets. seafood safety. a strong supporter in word and deed. worked closely with academia to best implement. nfi works with the alliance for a stronger fda to urge congress to for the agency to meet
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statutory obligations. as dr. sullivan fully described, i will not duplicate that discussion. i will close, though, speaking to results. results afterall, what matters. the centers for disease control analyzed illnesses from all foods. over the five-year period ending in 2010, cdc found that 141 of 122,000 that is 0.001156 or 0.12% illnesses caused by imported seafood. most of us love baseball. great day to be out for the nats game. but we recall going to the games with our dads. hoipg to clutch that mitt and catch that foul ball. unfortunately, we often came home crest fallen because we rarely ever did. the chance of catching the foul ball. 0.001156 or 0.12%. as an example of effectiveness of fda and while this is the
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hearing focus not only the fda captures program, i did want to acknowledge the leadership of senator shaheen and ayotte and others on this committee working in a bipartisan manner to eliminate a program that usda's own risk experts said will not improve public health. both domestic and imported has reduced illnesses to less than two per year. a safe product. it is because of the stringent requirements, a system required for both domestic and imported seafood. a system that requires problems to be fixed thousands of miles away from america not caught at the border. that congress exempted companies from some of the key provisions. nfi agrees with congress' determination. thank you. >> thank you very much. and now we'll hear from mr. frank randall. frank, welcome.
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>> thank you, chairman vitter. there we go, again. thank you. and for the members not here. ranking member shaheen, senator carden. thank you for inviting me to testify about the guest worker program. the program is a vital part of the survival, is -- this program is a vital -- is vital. this program is vital for the survival of seafood processing, especially in louisiana and maryland. the program, this program -- excuse me, just let me go. >> sure. >> it's vital. i will submit my statements for the record. in addition to a number of exhibits that will provide a use of reference for the committee. i'll now provide oral comments. i'm here to express my concerns for the future of my business and other small businesses that struggle daily. to succeed.
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i started at randalls in 1971, very small, one man, one truck. after four decades they're grown in size and scope, transitioning to the next generation. the future is in my sons that work my business allowing me to pull back. hurdles over the last four years were detailed by the commissioner. floods, hurricanes, oil spills, lack of product, imports from china. but the single most pressing issue has been the lack of labor. 1970s when i started my business i was lucky enough to have the refugees from vietnam come in. brought in roughly 40 to help us get through that time. over the course of the years came to the 1990s, that started to wayne a little bit. we discovered the h2b program and started to bring in the guest workers from mexico. started with 40, dwindled to 30, now we're at 25. i'm here to talk about the h2b guest worker program.
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the legal, legal temporary workers. to support farming fishing, restaurants, wholesale and retail operations. the attached decorations i've submitted from dr. strain filed in our suit of 2011 against the department of labor gives an overview of the importance of the h2b program to the louisiana economy. h2b application process has been a growing and expensive challenge since took over the initial wage certification from the state in 2008, the process has become increasingly more time consuming and costly. initially, i did the paperwork myself. but now had to turn it over to someone else qualified to -- more qualified to run through the governmental hoops. many people are using legal or international, international immigrant immigration attorneys. immigration attorneys.
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the stack of paperwork represents, was submitted on the application for the first cap. for the second, it'd be twice that stack. we missed both caps. our plant was scheduled to open february 2015, we're still waiting to see if we can salvage part of it. often we hear the remark, if you pay more money, you'll get the labor you need. we feel that isn't the case. it's more about the job than the money in our seafood industry. after missing the cap, both caps, we tried something different. seven prison trustees after one day. one trustee said i'd rather go back to jail than peel crawfish. the warden picked him up,
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brought him back, we didn't see him again. the remaining trustees continued to shrink until after a two-week effort they were all gone. now union activity starts to increase and create problems for us. and, recently the nlrb has surfaced in getting involved. we have referenced this in documents that we brought as exhibits. we need urgently we need fixes to save the program for small businesses. congress has to take action now. lost opportunity to fix the problems last year have already done severe harm in louisiana. some louisiana small business will not recover, others may be forced to cross the border. as in the past, we need immediate congressional action to block the new dhs and dol proposals of last wednesday. the workforce coalition submitted a statement we attached as an exhibit.
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in addition, we need to resume the returning worker exemption from the annual cap. we also have to return the authority of determining prevailing wages to the states. additionally, we feel we need a seat at the table with dol. just like the national guest workers alliance. the office of advocacy needs to be more aggressive in confronting dhs and dol as policy changes are being discussed. and, you know, part of what came up today as we listen to the testimony is what we have been hearing is that somehow what's happening was caused by industry. we just don't see it that way. we're small people, but we do know no matter where it was caused or somehow, when something like this happens, if there's an error or whatever,
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people that make the error still have their jobs. but in our case, we're small. we don't survive. there's some got to give and take that's got to take place here. and that's really why i'm here. somebody had to come up and tell you about what's going on back home. the little guys that are having problems. some big guys have the same problem. hershey expressed these problems in 2007 on to 2011 when they decided to open up the monterey mexico. and most of the growth already funneled into that plant for their american chocolate is now the america's chocolate. we have one right here. we have one in louisiana largest employer. uses h2b. missed the cap. and he's struggling. he's trying to make his orders for this year. small business. he's up against -- i'm not saying -- this is good chocolate, needs to stay home.
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i'd be happy to answer any questions you may have. >> thanks very much, frank. let's start with you since you offer such a great world perspective. i know you touched on it in your testimony. walk through the specific concrete impact to your business that the various recent department of labor changes and rulings have had. number one. number two, if you have any reaction so far. it may be too new, maybe you don't, but if you have any reaction so far of the new department of labor guidance moving forward on wage surveys. >> let me start, it's more of the same. as i see from dol. we've reviewed this stuff. it's stuff that don't work. program rules, 75% guarantee. got to turn them back, got to
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pay them. that doesn't work in louisiana. as far as the parity, if i pay one person this, other person has to be paid the same. in the seafood, we pay for productivity. we might bring them in at entry level, but give the incentives through piece work. they accelerate, get better, might enter at a nominal rate. but a lot of people get up to these larger rates $12 to $15 an hour. peeling craw fish. that's attainable. >> just to take those two examples. as far as you know, is any of that mandated by statutory law? or is it just a creation of the department of labor. >> a creation. y'all write the laws, they interpret the laws and we try to say that's not what you meant. you saw me up here in '06, it was easy to predict to see where we were going. that was when i first came to discuss this. the pain is in reality. and the pain to me, i feel it
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because i'm in it and i can't get out of it. we got through the process, missed the first cap. i've been at this for half a year trying to make a deadline. i can always start four months before i need them. four months, and i've been at it for six months. and i'm still not in the last step, which would gain me access in six weeks to bring them in. the real lifting at the border to determine whether these people really need to come in. you know, we've demonstrated we don't have the workforce here. >> frank, if i can interrupt, through the record ask miss wu. we talked about two specific requirements that you mentioned are flat out unworkable in the real world from your perspective. so if you could submit for the record any statutory basis that requires the department of labor to do that. because from what i see, there is none. thank you. go ahead, frank.
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>> a lot of this stuff in the coalition paper. what comes to mind is open up a job order that starts four months out and you have to take it 20 days to where these people are coming inside of the country. and leave it open. normally, you know, we've demonstrated there are no people that want this job. but, you know, these are just some of the few. and what i've offered to dol is, the nga is apparently -- has their ear. let's let small business somehow be in the process so that we don't see the results of a mandate, but we have a team effort to try to move forward. when they impose these things, we feel the pain. a lot of people go out of business. >> right. >> let me ask, both you and dr. strain if you have any specific reaction yet to their new guidance about allowing private, including state surveys. is it workable? is it not? is it reasonable? is it too narrow? do you have any reaction yet?
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>> the reaction i have is that we've been using the prevailing wage rate surveys. >> mr. chairman, we've been using the state prevailing wage rate surveys for many years. and when you look at the final rule, it says they will be used in limited exceptions. and so now we have several different methodologies to determine a wage rate. simply, let us continue to use the wage rate rule. if you look at the seafood industry and the crawfish industry, the state prevailing wage rate as determined by the lsu ag center and my office, $8.66. that's a floor. but they're also paid on piecemeal. and you have some -- you have workers that make $12, $15, $18 an hour. depending on production, this sets a minimum wage. let's not, if you look at what is in the interim rule there, it's complicated. we need to simplify this.
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>> okay. and dr. strain, i also wanted to touch on my imported seafood safety. we worked on it together, it would give states more power to increase seafood inspections for foreign imports. >> yes. >> in conjunction with the federal government. we've talked about this before, essentially empowering you to reinforce the effort of the federal government to put more cops on the beat. we do this in many other areas where the primary regulation is at the federal level. but related state entities can help enforce that. what is your view on that? and how it could improve seafood safety? >> mr. chairman. the american public, when they go to the market, 100% of the proteins for beef and pork, and 99% for poultry, there's a special, a specialty thing for
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poultry if you have a very small amount, less than 10% chickens, you can sell them, it's very tiny. but all of those proteins are inspected. they are monitored from the farm all the way through slaughter, they expect that slaughter and tested and back traced. the american public believes their seafood they consume is inspected and safe at that same level. if you look at the cdc report and i'm going to quote the press release 2012, says we currently import about 85% of our seafood. reviewed outbreaks from the food born disease outbreak surveillance system from 2005 to 2010. 248 illnesses were linked to
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imported food from 15 countries. of those outbreaks, 17 half occurred in '09 and '10. overall fish, 17 outbreaks were the most common source of implicated. foodborne disease outbreaks, followed by spices. nearly 45% of imported foods causing outbreaks came from asia. the american public assumes we are doing this testing. we know we're not. less than 3% of the imported seafood. 85% of the seafood consumes in the united states is imported and less than 3% is being tested. furthermore, when you look at that particular issue, if you look in a container of seafood there could be in the case of crawfish, there could be up to 20 different lots. 20 different lots, different origins coming together. so when you think that it's all a blended product and you take one sample and it is consistent with everything in the container, it is not.
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and when you look at the particular issues that we're talking about, we're talking about antibiotics that are banned from the united states such as clonefenacol. chemicals such as malachite green that are banned from the united states. so when you look at that, it is imperative we all be on the same level playing field. and when you start talking about why we need to test this seafood and you say, well, how are we going to stop port shopping, well, it's very simple. is that we need to make sure we have eyes on at the processing level in those foreign countries and i think some of that will take into effect in the future under the food safety modernization act. but that is somewhere in the future. and that container will be accompanied by a certificate stating it has been tested. and if that container comes in and you retest that container and it is not what it says, then it can either return directly and be certified to go back to the country of origin or be destroyed on site. now, our department, i'm responsible, i oversee the
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department of animal health and food safety. we have a food inspection program. we also work hand in hand with the usda, animal plant health inspection service, to where we do joint meat inspection, we do state plants and we can work jointly on federal plants where those products can cross state lines. but i am not permitted to test imported seafood. now, i can look at the containers to make sure that -- and i as the commissioner of the office of metrology, weights, measures and standards, that if there's a pound of seafood in there there's supposed to be a pound. but we're not allowed to take samples and test it for contaminants. so just like we are having a working relationship and we have a cooperative endeavor agreement with the federal government to do the other protein inspection, let us have the same arrangements where my inspectors who are out at those plants looking at other things and we do label inspections for the federal government as well give us the authority under a
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cooperative endeavor agreement to be further armed. we have testing labs in louisiana. we do half of the seafood tests. >> so if that were done, which i certainly support and am advocating through my bill, that would be fully consistent with the federal standards. it wouldn't be using different standards in any way. you'd just be additional cops on the beat, correct? >> that's correct. and what we do, our standards, our procedures are in alignment with the federal procedures. and we should have standards as high as the european union. they test and i believe it's up to 15% to 20% of all the products going to the eu. we should meet at least those standards. >> well, thank you all very much. we're going to wrap up. but in doing so let me also ask through the record if dr. solomon could supplement his testimony with a response to this question. dr. strain mentioned the use of chemicals on imported seafood
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that are banned in the united states. why shouldn't that practice be presumptive grounds to not allow that seafood into the country? if dr. solomon could respond for the record. thank you all very much. i think this was very informative and productive, particularly focusing on department of labor activity and regulations and the safety regime for seafood imports. thanks very much, and our hearing is adjourned.
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on the next washington journal, discussing sentencing and prison reform efforts. then jake horowitz talks about trends in juvenile in cars nation. and then looking at racial and
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socioeconomic factors creating divisions in america's inner cities. those conversations and your calls, tweets and e-mails. the show live at 7:00 a.m. eastern, 4:00 pacific on cspan. thursday, we are with attorney general loretta lynch when she testifies about the budget request for her department. the senate appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice, science hearing starts at 10:30 a.m. eastern. you can see it on cspan. here's a look at some featured programs for this weekend on cspan networks. saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern, live from greenville south carolina for the freedom summit.
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on mother's day starting noon eastern, remembering first ladies featuring daughters of jackie kennedy lady bird johnson, betty ford, laura bush. on cspan2 on book tv after word, jn krokauer. and then ann dunwoody. talks about her life and military career. american history tv saturday at 4:45 eastern on oral histories, remembering the liberation of nazi concentration camps with interview of curt klein who as a teenager escaped german persecution of jews by coming to the u.s., lost his parents, as interrogate or for the army questioned hitler's personal driver. sunday at 2:00 the anniversary of world war ii in europe w with dignitaries and veterans
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commemorating the event in washington, d.c. get the complete schedule at tuesday the manhattan institute for policy research hosted a forum on the future of america's black community. the event marks the 50th anniversary of a study on black america conducted by johnson administration labor secretary daniel patrick moynihan who later represented new york in the u.s. senate. this panel focuses on restoring the family. it is just over an hour. just want to keep things moving, if we could take our seats. we will continue with the third panel, then we'll grab a bite.
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i hope everyone found the previous two panels informative. i certainly have. we will move to panel three, restoring the family. i will introduce the panelists. the moderator is kay hymowitz fellow at the manhattan institute, contributing editor to city journal. kay writes extensively on childhood, family issues poverty and cultural change in america, author of four books including marriage and cast in america, separate and unequal families in a post marital age. and liberation's children parents and kids in a post modern age. and again, kay will be moderating the panel. the panelists are -- start with ron haskins, senior fellow in the economic studies program at the brookings institution, and
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senior consult at the anna can ee foundation in baltimore. in 2002 he was senior adviser to the president for welfare reform policy at the white house. he is senior editor of the future of children a journal on policy issues that effect children and families also the author of show me the evidence, work over welfare inside story of the 1996 welfare reform. and co-author of creating an opportune society. next panelist i will introduce is robert woodson. founder and president of the center for neighborhood enterprise which since 1981 has provided training for more than 2600 leaders and community based
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groups in 39 states. mr. woodson is also the author of youth crime and urban policy, a view from the inner-city, and trial for joseph how today's community healers are refiving our streets and neighborhoods. and finally glenn loury, professor of economics at brown university. mr. loury also taught at boston university harvard and northwestern. he is recipient of gug enheim fellowship and carnegie scholarship. member of council on foreign relations, and author of several books including one by one from the inside-out essays on race in america, race and incarceration, american values put out in 2008. on a personal note, i would like to say that both professor loury
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and bob woodson more than they could possibly realize influenced my thinking on many of the issues we are talking about today over the years. i discovered both their writings when i was in college. never thought i would be here today sharing a stage with them. just simply devoured their work in the early '90s, newspaper columns, books, and it is a privilege for me to have them here today. i want to say thank you to both of them for participating in this. [ applause ] and with that i will turn things over to kay hymowitz. >> thanks. and welcome to what seems to be the third panel on the family. for those of you here earlier you'll know what i mean. i'm very pleased to be here because i've done a lot of work on the moynihan report, and it is such an important moment in american history. really a kind of hinge moment
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not only because moynihan recognized what was going on before anybody else in the black family but also because of its aftermath, that is the public response to the moynihan report. when moynihan first wrote the report he got a fairly good response from within the administration. bill moyers, senior staff with lyndon johnson was very excited about it yes, that bill moyers, and johnson himself was so taken with the report that he gave a speech very close to here at howard university for the graduation of the graduate class of 1965, and he said the following. this is so incredible to hear these words and to imagine a sitting president uttering them.
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but he said the next and more profound stage the battle for civil rights, is the family. negro poverty is not white poverty. the breakdown of the negro family structure is the consequence of ancient brutality, past injustice presents prejudice. when the family collapses, it is the children that are usually damaged. when it happens on a massive scale, the community itself is crippled. now, let me put it this way. well when johnson gave that speech shortly after, he said he believed it was his greatest civil rights speech, but to put it bluntly, not many people agreed. there was tremendous upheaval and push back from civil rights groups and feminist groups as well, so much so that moynihan was pushed out of washington. and johnson went silent on this
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subject. one response that i wanted to read to you was from an activist and author named joyce ladner who interestingly enough became president of howard university years later. this is what she wrote in response to that moynihan report. one must question the validity of the white middle class life-style from its very foundation because it has already proven itself to be decadent and unworthy of emulation. you get a sense of the tenor of response, and why this conversation went so underground underground. in fact that prevailed, although people didn't put it in quite those ways. today the conversation about the black family is actually improved quite a bit for this
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reason. around the early '90s to mid '90s there started to be more research showing children of single mothers really were at a disadvantage. there was enough data at that point over a decade, over several decades to see these trends and to develop enough research that i am going to be quoting the late james wilson even soes ee -- sociologists had to believe it. there was a sense among family researchers, yes, there was a problem here, a genuine problem but although the conversation has been somewhat improved it is still in many ways very reminiscent of that early debate
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that we had between moynihan and his critics. i am hoping that the panel today, i am nothing the panel today, our excellent panel will have interesting ways of thinking about that debate and hopefully have some solutions to this problem that continues to be so much part of our american discussion today. so i'm going to begin with ron haskins who will layout some of the numbers for you on where we're at. >> thank you. i'm a great admire remember of the moynihan report read it back in 1965. i was young then, just learning to read. i read the thing, was astounded by it, and i was way more astounded by the reaction to it which was shocking as kay has said. so my job is to just layout some numbers about what our situation


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