Business & Economy
Q & A on Country of Origin Labeling PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Friday, 23 December 2011 14:42
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

 

Q:        Why do people have a beef with labeling the origin of the meat sold in grocery stores?

A:        A lot of people want to know where the food on their tables comes from.  Today, many food retailers are required to inform consumers about the country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, ginseng, and ground muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and goat, thanks to legislation first passed as part of the farm bill in 2002, and updated along with the farm bill in 2008.  The origin of almost everything you buy in the United States is labeled, so it’s a no-brainer to provide the same information about meat and produce.  Consumers deserve to know, and for producers, it’s a positive opportunity to build consumer confidence.  Unfortunately, making the law a reality for meat labeling, in particular, was a long and difficult process.  For too long, the U.S. Department of Agriculture delayed implementation by relying on inaccurate information provided by meat processors and containing gross over-estimates about the cost of providing this information to consumers.  Before the 2008 update, congressional committees responsible for funding agricultural programs withheld funds for COOL.

Q:        What’s the situation today?

A:        In November, the World Trade Organization (WTO) sided with Canada and Mexico in a challenge by those countries both to COOL rules and voluntary suggestions from the administration to provide useful origin information to consumers.  A trade dispute resolution panel of the WTO said the United States has the authority to require labeling, but the way our program works is unfair to livestock producers in Canada and Mexico.  That’s baloney.  The labeling system in place in the United States gives imported livestock the same opportunity to compete in the U.S. marketplace that it had before COOL was implemented.  What’s more, Canada, Mexico and other countries require country-of-origin information to be provided to consumers in their own countries.

Q:        What can be done about the WTO ruling?

A:        At this point, the panel decision either will be adopted by a WTO Dispute Settlement Body, or an appeal to the decision will be considered by a WTO Appellate Body.  Some groups are urging the administration to find a way to settle the dispute without further WTO proceedings, but it’s time for top U.S. officials to appeal without delay.  In December, I urged the U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Iowa’s former governor Tom Vilsack, to challenge the panel decision.  Eighteen other senators signed the letter which also urged these agency leaders to make sure that the COOL program meets international trade obligations while continuing to provide valuable information to consumers.  The administration’s handling of this WTO dispute will be closely monitored by many of us in Congress.  I encourage them to take all necessary steps to defend our COOL regulations.  America’s farmers deliver an abundant, affordable and safe food supply, and they deserve credit for it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

 
Braley Statement on 2012 Federal Appropriations Bill and Middle Class Tax Extension PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 15:56

Urges bipartisan cooperation on extending middle class tax cut 

 

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after supporting an agreement on a bill that funds US government operations through 2012:

“It’s disappointing that Congress failed to do its job for months and didn’t pass a bill to keep the government operating until today.  I’m relieved that there won’t be a government shutdown for the holidays.

 

“The political jockeying over extending the middle class payroll tax cut needs to stop.  Extending the middle class tax cut is simply the right thing to do.  This tax cut has everything to do with strengthening the economy; it shouldn’t have anything to do with Republicans or Democrats scoring political points.  I urge Congressional leaders to put their differences aside and extend these vital tax cuts for Iowa families.”

 

Extending the middle class Social Security payroll tax holiday for an additional year would mean an average Iowa family making $50,000 per year would save $1,000 on their taxes.

 

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Grassley on the MF Global Collapse PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 15:06

During his weekly video address, Senator Chuck Grassley discusses revelations made during the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing regarding the MF Global collapse in which up to $1.2 billion in customer funds was lost – including money from Iowa farmers and brokers.

Click here for audio.

Here is the text of the address:

This week’s oversight hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee on the MF Global collapse yielded some revelations on what happened and who knew what when.

An executive of a financial exchange that oversees MF Global testified that the former head of the firm may have known the firm was using customer funds to make a $175 million loan to a European affiliate.  This statement from the head of the CME Group struck another senator on the Agriculture Committee as a “bomb.”

It strikes me as a bombshell, too, because just minutes before, Mr. Jon Corzine continued to express his lack of understanding of how MF Global lost up to $1.2 billion in customer funds – including money from Iowa farmers and brokers.

The revelation wasn’t in any prepared testimony.  It came in response to senators’ questions.

It goes to show that congressional oversight yields results.

Those responsible can and should be brought to account, whether it’s firms playing fast and loose with customer money in violation of the law or the regulators who are supposed to stop malfeasance.

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Braley Joins Bipartisan Majority to Support Middle Class Tax Cut PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 19 December 2011 15:50

Every working Iowan will benefit from payroll tax cut extension 

 

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after crossing party lines to support a Republican bill that would extend a payroll tax cut for the middle class for an additional year:

“Unless Congress acts, the average Iowa family could see their taxes go up by $1,000 on January 1st,” Braley said.  “Extending the middle class tax cut and keeping money in the pockets of hard-working families is a sure-fire way to fuel economic growth.

 

“People in this country are desperate for leadership and they don’t care about labels, they care about results. To me, extending tax cuts for middle class families is more important than Washington politics.  This bill isn’t about Republicans or Democrats– it’s about strengthening our economy and stopping a tax increase from hurting middle class families in the middle of a recession.

 

“I’m not crazy about many of the extra provisions contained in this bill.  In fact, I have serious reservations about the adjustments it makes to public health funding, unemployment insurance, and Medicare reimbursements.  But Iowa’s middle class families can’t afford inaction from Congress on extending these tax cuts.”

The legislation would extend for an additional year a 2 percent Social Security payroll tax holiday that was first passed at the end of 2010.   An average American family making $50,000 per year would save $1,000 with the extension of the tax cut.

The legislation also extends unemployment insurance for out-of-work Americans for 13 months, through January 31st, 2013.

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Statement on Passage of Economic Growth and Tax Reform Package PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katelyn Tye   
Monday, 19 December 2011 15:48

CHICAGO – December 13, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today issued the following statement regarding today’s passage of the Economic Growth and Tax Reform Package:

“Before veto session, we brought the leaders to the table with the goal of delivering economic growth and tax reform for both hard-working families and employers. The package that is on the way to my desk is a win for workers and a win for employers in Illinois.

“At its core, this package is about jobs. By doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit, we are supporting job creation and putting more money in the pockets of everyday working people, which allows them to spend those dollars at local businesses in their communities. Improving the value of the standard personal exemption is an effective tool that benefits all taxpayers and also makes our tax code more fair. The Research and Development Tax Credit and other small business tax credits included in this package will help spur job creation, investment and economic development all over the state.

“Investing in working families and employers is a good investment for Illinois. This package is the result of a bipartisan effort and diligent work by many. I commend the Senate, Senate President John Cullerton, Minority Leader Christine Radogno and Sen. Toi Hutchinson for their hard work to pass a package that will provide much-needed relief to working families in Illinois and help employers put more people back to work.”

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