ANAHEIM, Calif. -- In response to a bill that would abolish the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, Alexandria, Va., has drafted compromise legislation to reform, rather than do away with, the now controversial 65-year-old act.
The association has lined up Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., as a backer of its bill, which had not been introduced by late last week, but is expected to be shortly, United officials said at their annual trade conference here last week.
The compromise legislation is in response to the Jan. 26 bill introduced by Rep. John Boehmer, R-Ohio, that would abolish PACA. The bill has the support of the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, and the National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association, Falls Church, Va.
Several parts of the United-backed reform are directed specifically toward retailers, who have long complained that they pay a high portion of the program, and receive few benefits, according to United. PACA is entirely supported by user fees.
The reform bill set for introduction would shift the burden of PACA fees away from retailers to other portions of the industry, such as growers and shippers, who currently back PACA. United estimates that total retailer contributions to the program would be reduced by about one-third.
Aspects of the PACA Reform Act of 1995 that affect retailers include:
The cap on total licensing fees payable by any company with multiple branches would be reduced from the current level of $4,000 to $2,000.
Companies with licensed subsidiaries could consolidate fees under the license of the parent organization.
Retailers who buy more than $400,000 of perishable commodities annually would have to buy a license. The current cap is $240,000.
Retailer community contributions to the PACA program would be capped at 25%.
United officials have said they are looking for several cosponsors for the legislation. Rep. Kika de la Garza, D-Texas, has been named as one potential cosponsor.