Inouye and Akaka oppose fruit proposal
Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop new proposed rules that would allow fresh tropical fruit from Thailand treated with irradiation to be imported to the United States.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie has already come out against the proposed rule change.
Inouye and Akaka issued a news release yesterday, saying they are joining Abercrombie and oppose allowing fresh Thai pineapples, mangoes, logans, lychees, rambutans and mangosteens to come into the U.S.
Citing concerns over the spread of pests and diseases that might come into Hawaii from Thailand, the senators also asked that if the fruit is allowed to be imported to the mainland, it still be prohibited from coming into Hawaii.
"I am very disappointed that the (Bush) administration seems to care so little about the livelihoods of these American farmers," Inouye said in the written news lease.
Akaka noted that growers are concerned that the rule change "puts them on an unfair playing field with Thailand."
Rep. Ed Case said yesterday that he believes it is "unrealistic" to believe that Hawaii can put up trade barriers to international competition. But he said Thailand should not be allowed to ship its products until Hawaii tropical fruits have the same access to mainland markets and there is adequate protection against pests and disease. Case said that repealing the Jones Act would lower costs and would help make Hawaii agriculture more competitive to foreign competition.
The deadline for public comment is Monday.