Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/26/1996 01:33 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
         HJR 62 FED PURCHASE SURPLUS '95 CANNED SALMON                        
                                                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KELLY called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee                 
 meeting to order at 1:33 p.m. and announced  HJR 62  to be up for             
 consideration.                                                                
                                                                               
 CHERYL SUTTON, Staff to Representative Bill Williams, sponsor of              
 HJR 62, said that the Alaska canned pink salmon industry is  facing           
 a serious crisis of marketing surplus salmon caused by record                 
 harvest in 1995.                                                              
                                                                               
 She explained that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has                     
 traditionally required that canned salmon be processed under NMFS             
 type continuous inspection even though neither the commercial                 
 market place nor the Food and Drug Administration makes that                  
 requirement.  The canned salmon industry does not normally contract           
 NMFS inspectors to oversee the processing operation unless there is           
 an indication there will be a U.S.D.A. purchase program.                      
                                                                               
 In 1995 USDA sent a letter to the salmon industry indicating that             
 based on the harvest level forecast at the time a harvest 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.                                                                       
                                                                               
 The industry is prepared to have the 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 deems these              
 assurances should be adequate for USDA purchases for its various              
 programs.                                                                     
                                                                               
 HJR 62 requests the federal government to purchase the '95 Alaska             
 canned salmon surpluses for the domestic and export programs.                 
 These programs include school lunch programs, export programs,                
 assistance to low income persons, and the federal prison system.              
                                                                               
 The resolution also asks the Department of Agriculture to waive the           
 NMFS type line 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 National Food Processors Association and the              
 FDA.  Alaska canned salmon is traded internationally under the                
 assurances of these programs.                                                 
                                                                               
 At present at least six major Alaska processors have notified                 
 fishermen they will not be buying pink salmon for the '96 season              
 because of the surpluses.  This situation poses economic disaster             
 for our fishermen and processors.                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR TORGERSON moved to pass SJR 62 from committee with                    
 individual recommendations.  There were no objections and it was so           
 ordered.                                                                      

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