Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/13/1996 08:10 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HJR 62 - FED PURCHASE SURPLUS '95 CANNED SALMON                             
                                                                               
 Number 2326                                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAM K. "BILL" WILLIAMS accepted the gavel from Co-            
 Chairman Green to preside over the testimony on HJR 62.  He said              
 his intent was move the resolution from committee today.                      
                                                                               
 Number 2348                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHERYL SUTTON, Legislative Assistant to Representative Bill                   
 Williams, read the sponsor statement for HJR 62 into the record:              
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON said, "The Alaska canned pink salmon industry is facing            
 a serious crisis caused by record harvests in 1995.  The record               
 pack of nearly four million cases on a 48 tall basis is seriously             
 affecting the industry's ability to move these surpluses.                     
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON continued, "The pink salmon harvest forecast for 1995              
 was 76.1 million but actually turned out to be 128 million.  This             
 was 51.9 million over forecast.  The strength is attributed to good           
 ocean survival.                                                               
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON proceeded, "USDA has traditionally required that canned            
 salmon be processed under NMFS "Type 1" Continuous Inspection, even           
 though neither the commercial marketplace nor the U.S. Food and               
 Drug Administration (FDA) makes this requirement.  The canned                 
 salmon industry does not normally contract NMFS inspectors to                 
 oversee the processing operation unless there is an indication that           
 there will be a USDA purchase program.  In 1995, a letter was sent            
 by USDA to the salmon industry indicating that, based on the                  
 harvest level forecasts at the time, a purchase was not warranted.            
 Consequently, the bulk of the industry did not assume the                     
 additional expense of NMFS inspection.  When the size of the run              
 became apparent, it was too late to bring inspectors to the plants.           
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON said, "The industry is prepared to have the National               
 Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Inspection Services Division                  
 conduct lot inspections of product processed in 1995 to certify               
 that the product meets the technical requirements of the Commercial           
 Item Description for canned salmon.  NMFS believes these assurances           
 should be deemed adequate for USDA purchases for its various                  
 programs.                                                                     
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON said, "House Joint Resolution 62 requests the federal              
 government to purchase 1995 Alaska canned pink salmon surpluses for           
 their domestic and export programs.  These programs, managed by the           
 Agricultural Marketing Service, include school lunch programs,                
 export programs, assistance to low income persons and the federal             
 prison system.                                                                
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON continued, "The resolution asks the Department of                  
 Agriculture to waive the National Marine Fisheries Service "Type 1"           
 inspection requirement.  The canned salmon industry operates under            
 federal and State of Alaska regulations as well as the guidelines             
 of the "Canned Salmon Control Plan and Container Integrity Program"           
 which were developed in conjunction with the National Food                    
 Processors Association and FDA.  Alaska canned salmon is traded               
 internationally on the assurances of these programs.                          
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON said, "At present, at least six major Alaska seafood               
 companies have notified fishermen they will not be buying pink                
 salmon for the 1996 season because of the surplus.  This situation            
 poses economic disaster for our fishermen and processors.                     
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON concluded, "The canned pink salmon surpluses offer a               
 highly nutritious and healthful product for the federal                       
 government's programs.  It is imperative that USDA make a decision            
 quickly.  Operating plans and commitments to purchase cans and                
 packaging material must be made now to be manufactured and shipped            
 for the 1996 season."                                                         
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON added that the committee's support would be much                   
 appreciated...(CHANGE TAPE)                                                   
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-32, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 0001                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE LONG questioned Ms. Sutton about the use of bagged             
 salmon.  Would that also require the "Type 1" inspections?                    
                                                                               
 Number 0023                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON felt that particular product had not been produced in              
 any volume at this point for the marketplace.                                 
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked whether the sponsor had considered                
 adding a resolve to include some specific reference to substituting           
 the other marine fisheries inspections or the ADEC inspections so             
 the resolve did not say that we were asking them to waive the "Type           
 1" inspections but to utilize the other information that was                  
 available in lieu of that requirement.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 0058                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON replied that numerous industry people and Alaska's                 
 federal delegation and others have been working on this issue.  She           
 said the National Marine Fisheries Service who conducts both of               
 these inspections, the "Type 1" continuous inspection and the lot             
 inspection, has written to the U.S. Department of Agriculture                 
 expressing their concern with the "Type 1"  inspection and asking             
 them to waive that requirement and outlining what the lot                     
 inspection would cover and why it would suffice.  These issues have           
 been dealt with.  She referred to page 2, line 10 of HJR 62 and               
 stated she felt that Representative Davies concern was adequately             
 addressed.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 0108                                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said if the federal government comes in and buys            
 up copious amounts of excess canned salmon, what they do with that            
 and what sort of price, is it a reduced or competitive price.                 
 MS. SUTTON replied that she did not know but informed him that                
 canned salmon is now moving at a low price everywhere in the                  
 international and domestic marketplace.  She said she expected it             
 to be a comparable price to what is moving and being traded now.              
 There is no doubt that people are going to take losses but it is              
 more important to move that inventory, the costs of warehousing 1.7           
 million cases are astronomical.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0149                                                                   
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN stated in the past, there was a concern about               
 botulism, albeit a fake scare; he asked if relieving this kind of             
 inspection would increase that possibility.                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON answered in the negative, no it would not increase the             
 threat of that kind of incident.  She informed the committee that             
 Janice Adair, Department of Environmental Conservation, would be              
 addressing what the DEC requirements are for inspection.  She said            
 the state's canned salmon regulations are so strict that people who           
 can salmon are not allowed to anything that is watermarked.  A fish           
 that is watermarked means a fish that comes late in the run or has            
 been milling in area where there is fresh water.                              
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON emphasized that this is wonderful product going into the           
 can.  It is not as some people think that because it is in a can it           
 must be low in product.  It is very high in product and the                   
 industry standards are extremely strict all the way through.  She             
 suggested that the regulations in place now exceed what the "Type             
 1" inspection would be.                                                       
                                                                               
 MS. SUTTON explained that all the "Type 1" inspection would do is             
 have someone from the federal government, an inspector from the               
 National Marine Fisheries Service physically present in the plant             
 on the line when it is being processed.  They would process in the            
 same manner whether that person were standing there or not standing           
 there.  They do not change anything in their operation.                       
                                                                               
 Number 0221                                                                   
                                                                               
 JANICE ADAIR, Director, Division of Environmental Health,                     
 Department of Environmental Conservation, testified in support of             
 HJR 62.  She said she was encouraged to see canned salmon in the              
 school lunch program.                                                         
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS closed testimony on HJR 62 and asked the wish            
 of the committee.                                                             
                                                                               
 Number 0250                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN moved that HJR 62 move from the House                
 Resources Committee with individual recommendations and attached              
 zero fiscal note.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.               

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