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Several members of the Georgia Congressional delegation are working to help the state’s peanut farmers — leading an effort that they believe will ultimately allow for an increased market access for peanuts. House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (D-GA-13) and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Chair Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai regarding European non-tariff trade barriers impacting peanuts.

This letter follows actions by Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) who also sent letters to Tai and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, making a similar request.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grades U.S. peanuts for quality and safety, including testing protocols for aflatoxin. However, the EU has placed additional aflatoxin requirements on U.S. peanut imports that the United States Peanut Federation (USPF) says are excessive. According to the USPF, these additional requirements have become non-tariff trade barriers for the U.S. peanut industry. In 2020, U.S. growers exported 668,000 metric tons of peanuts. The EU’s stringent tests have cost U.S. growers $170 million in recent years, the Georgia Congressmen explained, and USPF reports that the losses in the first quarter of 2021 total an additional $130 million in anticipated lost sales.

In their letter, Congressmen Scott and Bishop stated, “As House agricultural leaders and Representatives of the nation’s top peanut growing state, Georgia, we must bring an important trade issue concerning a non-tariff trade barrier related to peanuts to your attention. As you may already be aware, the European Union (EU) has imposed extraneous aflatoxin (a naturally occurring contaminant that affects a variety of crops) testing in peanuts, which has been affecting American peanut farmers and the entire U.S. peanut industry.”

According to Scott and Bishop, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a maximum threshold for aflatoxin of 15 parts per billion for raw peanuts and 20 parts per billion for peanut products, based on the appropriate toxicological data, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) performs rigorous testing on peanuts for quality and safety.

“We are strong supporters of science and believe that science and regard for the public health should guide our regulatory principles when it comes to food safety,” they wrote. “Through their rigorous testing and grading processes, the USDA and American peanut farmers demonstrate that they follow those same principles and are committed to producing high-quality peanuts that can be consumed safely.

Just as the Senators did, Scott and Bishop urged the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and USDA to work together.

“From what was once a top peanut export market, the U.S. industry estimates approximately $170 million in lost sales in recent years, because of Europe’s arduous testing imposed upon American peanut imports. Losses at a similar rate will continue unless a resolution is negotiated to alleviate the superfluous testing creating this barrier,” they wrote.

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