Congressman Panetta Responds to Canadian Import Requirements Targeting Salinas Valley Romaine

October 2, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) released the following statement in response to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) published import requirements for romaine lettuce, which largely only impact romaine from the Salinas Valley.  The requirements will go into effect on October 7, 2020:

“Food sfety is of the utmost importance, and the farmers of the Salinas Valley are committed to ensuring confidence in their fresh produce.  Today’s published import requirements for romaine lettuce from the United States by the Government of Canada are an unwelcome surprise and could prevent local growers from exporting romaine to Canada for the remainder of the year.  They are burdensome to the Central Coast agriculture industry and will likely fail to improve the overall safety of romaine lettuce.”

“These requirements, which target romaine producers from the Salinas Valley, are not based on a current outbreak or failed tests and amount to a non-tariff barrier.  It is unclear whether they follow sound science, as is required for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures under the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA).”

“While I am appreciative of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) efforts to work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), in my view there has been far too little communication between governments.  This raises concerns as to whether Canada has followed the proper notification requirements agreed to in the USMCA.”

“I am in contact with leadership at the FDA and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the White House and continue to urge them to take action.  We must ensure that any new standards are workable for our growers and oppose those that are not based on sound science.”

“As the representative of the ‘Salad Bowl of the World,’ I will continue do everything I can to fight these harmful requirements and ensure that safe Salinas Valley romaine has fair access to the Canadian market.  I am disappointed in this decision and expect the Administration to work with the Government of Canada to address these barriers and protect the integrity of the USMCA.”