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Farm bill debate continues over commodities and olives

Farm groups and think tanks are continuing to make their cases on the farm bill.

The Heritage Foundation on Thursday published the latest in its report critical of the bill.

Earlier Heritage had called for the elimination of 20 programs in the bill, including one that would require inspection of all olive oil sold in the United States, charging that the provision imposes import controls on olive oil to drive up prices.

On Sunday, the American Olive Oil Producers Association said that the charge was “baseless” and that the provision “is neither an import control nor will it drive up prices. It simply provides for a common sense program requiring imported olive oil to be held to the same standards as American olive oil.”

“The real consumer tax is caused by fraud, which results in consumers paying $15-$20 per liter for extra virgin olive oil that is fact often blended with inferior quality olive oil and potentially contaminated with allergens,” said AOOPA, which represents olive oil producers in California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. AOOPA added that 98 percent of oil consumed in the United States is imported, “which allows importers to dictate market prices.”

A group of farm bill critics — the Environmental Working Group, the American Enterprise Institute, the R Street Institute, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the National Taxpayers Union, the Taxpayers for Common Sense, the National Black Farmers Association, U.S. PIRG, and Defenders of Wildlife — have scheduled a joint press conference and staff briefing today to discuss their concerns.

Meanwhile, Politico writer David Rogers on Sunday provided an analysis of the conflict among commodity producers over the shallow loss and target price-based programs in the farm bill.