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November 15, 2023

Collins, King Join Bipartisan Legislation to Support Maine Farmers’ Access to Global Markets

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King have cosponsored legislation to help Maine’s wild blueberry and potato farmers boost exports of their crops. The Specialty Crops Reporting on Opportunities and Promotion Act (Specialty CROP Act), aims to address high tariffs, burdensome labeling requirements, and other trade barriers that restrict U.S. products from accessing foreign markets, threatening rural communities and agricultural producers who depend on customers overseas. 

“Maine is known throughout the country for its potatoes and wild blueberries,” said Senator Collins. “By increasing reporting requirements for agricultural trade, this bipartisan bill would provide U.S. farmers with greater assurance that they are competing in a fair global market, and that their high-quality products have every opportunity to continue to reach consumers worldwide.”

“The agriculture community is at the heart of Maine’s identity and is essential to our state’s economy,” said Senator King. “The Specialty Crops Reporting on Opportunities and Promotion Act (Specialty CROP Act) is a great step forward to ensure that Maine farmers can compete on even terms with farmers from other countries – helping to save and revitalize our small businesses here at home. As the agricultural industry faces challenges resulting from changing global markets, we must level the playing field by providing needed resources and support to our American businesses.”

The legislation would help farmers by making key improvements to the annual U.S. Specialty Crops Trade Issues Report, to more effectively identify and combat unreasonable trade barriers, including: 

  • Explicitly requiring participation and engagement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR); 
  • Highlighting specific trade barriers that limit the export competitiveness of specialty crops in specific markets, including tariff and non-tariff barriers; 
  • Including an assessment of whether each trade barrier is subject to a U.S. FTA or international agreement; 
  • Including specific information with respect to actions taken, or expected to be taken, by the U.S. government to address or resolve each trade barrier; and 
  • Requiring a request for comment from both the public and the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee (ATAC) for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables. 
  • Requiring the report to be made public, while allowing for a classified annex in order to protect U.S. national security and economic strategy. 
  • Continuing to define “specialty crop” as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” 

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), David Valadao (R-CA) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Senators Collins and King have been strong advocates for Maine and America’s agriculture industry. Together, they have worked to support Maine’s lobster fishery, the wild blueberry industry, and potato farmers. Senator King previously led the introduction of the Expanding Agricultural Exports Act which would boost marketing efforts and overseas sales for American agricultural products, including seafood. Senator Collins is a co-sponsor of that bill.

Read the text of the legislation here and a one-page summary of the bill here.


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