Olive Grower Organizations from CA, TX, GA and FL Push for Fair Trade in Olive Oil
Olive Industry Advocacy
The Florida Olive Council, LAA, the Georgia Olive Growers Association, the Texas Olive Oil Association and the California Olive Council testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding unfair trade practices. The testimony was endorsed by the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means and highlighted the fact that inferior foreign olive oil,. often labeled “Extra Virgin” was entering the U.S. unimpeded by law or regulation. The various state olive associations banded together as the American Olive Oil Producers Association (AOOPA) to support language in the 2014 Farm Bill that would protect U.S. consumers from (often intentionally) mislabeled olive oil. Florida Olive Council president Michael O’Hara Garcia’s testimony pointed to the fact that Florida’s olive industry was very young and required encouraging regulation that would remove economic roadblocks. A presentation by Tom Mueller, author of the best selling expose’ on the olive business: Extra Virginity informed the Commission about specific fraudulent practices including dilution with inferior olive oil or other oils (Rape Seed, Soy, Palm, etc.) and coloring oil with chlorophyll to simulate quality and freshness. The University of California conducted a study of olive oil on grocery store shelves and found that more than 70% did not meet the minimum standard for extra virgin olive oil.
Despite petitions to at-the-time serving Florida members of the House Agriculture Committee (Rep. Yoho, Rep. Ros- Lehtinen, Rep. Webster) little support was given. A vote to support domestic olive farmers was not part of the agenda on the Bill. Although the language simply called for foreign olive oil imported into the U.S. to undergo the same inspection as U.S. olive oil shipped to the EU; a last minute procedural ambush by members of the New York delegation (most of the large olive oil importers are on the East Coast) bolstered by an absurd study from the Heritage Foundation suggesting the inordinate cost of inspection would hurt consumers, gathered sufficient votes to strike the language on the Floor. However, the American Association of Olive Oil Producers (AOOPA) continues to fight for fair trade practices in olive oil. Several states, most recently California, have passed laws and regulations governing the marketing of olive oil. Law suits have been filed against olive oil importers and marketers.
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