tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 28, 2016 4:00am-6:01am EDT
>> is there further discussion? mr. gohmert. >> thank you, mr. chair. i greatly respect my friend from puerto rico, and i really appreciate his sincerity and his effort on behalf of his constituents. the point continues to be made that puerto rico is not a state, puerto rico, it's happened, and i've missed it, has not voted to ask to become a state. but that's also the reason that puerto rico, guam, samoa, virgin islands, actually every american entity except for the district of columbia that does not elect a full voting member of congress does not pay federal income tax. which is why i filed a bill to allow the district of columbia
not to have to file, or pay federal income tax. but one of the things i've not really heard anybody address, we talked about in here the need for the minimum wage to be raised. and when there was an article written recently that indicated for an individual who just accepts the available federal welfare payments, they may be looking at $1,700 a month take home whereas under the current minimum wage it's about $1,200 take-home. well, the incentive there is obviously not to work. but i know my friends at heritage have encouraged as a solution lowering the minimum wage. obviously, that would even increase the disparity between
what you take home if you don't work and what you take home if you do work. if you lowered the minimum wage. so that's obviously not going to fix the problem there. but if the minimum wage is raised in puerto rico, since as my friend from california's indicated they have a higher minimum wage, then people would be tempted to go from puerto rico to california to get those higher minimum wage jobs except for the fact that people are leaving california in droves coming to florida and texas because we don't have as much regulation, we don't have the higher minimum wage, we have less litigation and it's more -- more of a helpful environment for creating entrepreneurism and creating jobs. so when -- i keep thinking of the beauty of puerto rico and all that puerto rico has to
offer and could not understand why in the world puerto rico has not already become the united states hong kong that's just flourishing and growing since there's no federal income tax until i saw that there's a 39% corporate tax, not for federal but just for local. there's a 6% to 7% sales tax from last i saw. and in addition to the corporate tax being higher than the federal corporate tax, there's also a 30%, 33% flat income tax rate. texas has no income tax. we have a sales tax. puerto rico has all of the above and a 6% excise tax. and it appears that really is going to have to be one of the things addressed, lowering the number of people in the government, lowering tax rates so it becomes that attractive hong kong and businesses want to
flood in. but i'm not hearing those things addressed. but i didn't want people to think that it was all disadvantaged in puerto rico by not being a state because when that was found out that none of the territories pay federal income tax, i've had many constituents ask if we couldn't apply in texas to be a territory. >> would the gentleman yield? >> i would certainly yield. >> briefly. i just want to set the record straight. in november 2012 a plebiscite was held in puerto rico and 55% of the voters rejected puerto rico's current status and 61% of the voters supported statehood. actually, among the options given more people voted for statehood in that plebiscit than any other option. and i have introduced a bill in this congress, it has 110
co-sponsors. my party's co-sponsorship. providing for the admission of puerto rico as a state. once there is an up or down vote on statehood. like we had in hawaii and alaska before they became states. ? . >> my time's expired. >> mr. macarthur. >> mr. chairman, just briefly, my next amendment i'm going to be asking that we remove the other territories from this bill. but as it stands now, wiping out this requirement that the legislature and the governor sign off on an oversight board, we would be in the position of imposing an oversight board on any territory for any reason, whether they were in fiscal difficulty or not. it's -- it seems to me it's a complete erosion of any kind of self-determination in the territories. puerto rico will sign this because they need the relief that they're getting in exchange for this.
and therefore, i oppose this amendment. >> thank you. let me also yield myself that i oppose this amendment as well from the practicality of it. the opt-in would make this entire bill moot. and what i'd actually ask them to do is have the government of puerto rico pass a resolution of their own malfeasance, which is -- i don't think in the reality of it is something that we should actually impose on somebody to try and do. is there other further discussion for this amendment? any amendments to it? if not we'll vote on the amendment. all those in favor say aye. opposed say nay. t in the opinion of the chair the nays have it. record the vote. >> mr. bishop. >> no. >> mr. bishop votes no. mr. grijalva. mr. grijalva votes no. mr. young. miss napolitano. mr. gohmert. miss boredio. mr. lamb-born. mr. lamb-born votes yes. mr. costa. mr. whitman.
mr. whitman votes yes. mr. soblan. mr. fleming. mr. fleming votes yes. miss stongas. hiss songas votes no. mr. mcclintock. mr. mcclintock votes yes. mr. pierluisi votes no. mr. thompson. mr. thompson votes no. mr. huffman. miss lummis. miss lummis votes no. mr. ruiz. mr. ruiz votes no. mr. benishek. mr. benishek votes no. mr. loan that'll. will lowenthal votes no. mr. duncan. mr. duncan votes no. mr. cartwright. mr. cart rite votes no. mr. goesar. mr. goesar votes no. mr. beyer votes no. mr. labrador. mr. labrador votes no. miss torres. miss torres votes no. mr. la malfa votes no. miss dingell votes no. mr. denham. mr. gallego. mr. gallego votes no. mr. cook.
miss capps. miss capps votes no. mr. westerman votes no. mr. pole polis votes no. mr. clay votes no. mr. newhouse votes no. mr. zinke. mr. zinke votes no. mr. heiss votes no. miss rat wagon votes no. mr. moony. mr. hardy. mr. hardy votes no. mr. lahood. mr. lahood votes no. >> those who have not voted -- mr. gohmert has not been roar recorded. >> mr. cook has not been recorded. mr. cook votes no. mr. costa votes no. >> mr. denham. >> mr. denham votes no. >> it was hard to hear that, i know. >> mr. young votes no. >> mr. yungs votoung votes no. is there anyone else who has not voted or wishes to change?
the clerk will report. >> mr. chairman, on this vote the yeas are 5 and the nays are 33. >> the amendment is not adopted. let's go to mr. -- we're coming down on this thing. i think we've got six more minutes still to go. let's go as quickly as we possibly can. six or seven. mr. macarthur, number 55. you've already had that passed out. you're recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this amendment addresses an error, i think, an error in the bill that came from an
overabundance of caution. the bill as it stands authorizes an oversight board with the same extraordinary powers for each of the nation's territories, except that none of the rest of them face the kind of looming crisis that is facing puerto rico. no territory other than puerto rico has asked us to get involved. the u.s. virgin islands has expressly asked not to be part of this. and in fact, i worked with representative plaskett on this amendment. my concern is it could have the unintended consequences of eroding other territories' access to capital markets and the costs. if a control board can simply be brought in at any time p i have the written opinion of not one but three constitutional lawyers that this is unnecessary language, that we can focus this entirely on puerto rico and not the others. and what my amendment does is simply restores the bill to its
purpose of restoring fiscal stability to puerto rico alone and not apply it to the other territories. and i ask for its adoption. i yield back. >> is there further discussion? mr. grijalva? >> this amendment would limit the scope of the legislation to puerto rico only since it is the one facing the crisis. the bill as introduced provides a process for restructuring and fiscal responsibility for all territories should the other territories request it. the other territories, quite frankly, are included because leaving them out could lead the bill to be declared unconstitutional. as well intentioned as the amendment is, all our efforts over the last months would be wasted and more importantly, puerto rico would be left with no solution if this amendment were to be adopted. in fact, certain creditors' attorneys have already stated publicly that they would
challenge the legality of the bill if it covers only puerto rico as a violation of u.s. constitution in affirmative clause. i oppose the amendment because it is litigation bait and urge my colleagues to vote against it. >> is there further discussion on the amendment? let me yield myself on this one. this hurts. this is an amendment which i will be voting no in committee. but i want you to know that i understand the premise of it and i want to still keep working as we go to the floor to see if we can work some of these details out to adopt it at that particular situation. the treasury department, as has been stated, is very leery of this type of an approach, thinking that they could be opening it up on a constitutional challenge, which would threaten the entire bill. they said that in our testimony. at the same time there was another professor who disagreed with that. i think there's a question there that should be explored at some time. i don't know what the correct
answer is right now. and if indeed this could threaten the constitutionality of the entire bill, the entire bill would go down on and yeah, litigants have said they're willing to go to court on this particular issue. i do think they can work that out. there has to be a way of working out so the substance of what mr. macarthur is trying to accomplish here can be done without throwing into question whether there is a constitutional issue or not. since i'm not ready to do that i'm going to vote no on this particular amendment, recognizing that i still would like to try to go forward working to see if we can follow some language that will be comfortable to everybody including the treasury department and the white house on this particular point. going forward. because i do understand the premise of what you're saying. and i actually agree with the premise of what you're saying. is there any other discussion? any other amendments? miss radewaggen.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to yield my time to mr. macarthur. >> mr. chairman, i understand your concern. i don't agree with it. i think it's -- to me it's crystal clear the only entities who would challenge the constitutionality of this are the ones who aren't interested in it. and so i think it's a false fear. but i would be happy to work with you outside of this process. and if this can be improved for a floor amendment i'd be happy to bring it up there instead if that would be a more productive use and withdraw it at this time. >> i actually think it would be. >> then i'll withdraw the amendment and bring it back to the floor. >> and my intention is to actually get something that we can bring to the floor. >> okay. i'll withdraw then. >> the amendment's withdrawn.
and thank you grour cooperation in working that way. i understand you're involved in this issue a lot. you've been involved in this legislation. you have a lot of ideas that maybe we can still work on coming toward the floor. mr. mcclintock, you have 094, which is the next one up. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this amendment simply exempts from this act that portion of debt issued by puerto rico that was backed by its constitutional pledge of full faith and credit and taxing power. now, the commonwealth, $72 billion of outstanding bonds, this would exempt roughly $18 billion of constitutionally protected debt. and lest we forget, only about 12% of puerto rico's general obligation bonds are owned by hedge funds. 40% are held by puerto rican residents. i laid out the reasons for this amendment in my remarks yesterday. i agree there's no reason to treat san juan's municipal debt any differently than san jose's. but constitutionally issued debt
is fundamentally different and it's reliability must be maintained. this is important to every state that relies on constitutional full faith and credit pledges. the federal government has until now never threatened or even considered undermining constitutional full faith and credit guarantees by allowing chapter 9 provisions to be provided to sovereign debt. whether that debt is issued by a territory or a state. if congress is willing to undermine the commonwealth's constitutionally guaranteed bonds today, there is every reason to believe it would be willing to undermine state guarantees tomorrow. this in turn invites credit markets to question any constitutional debt guarantee as no longer secured on constitutional bedrock but rather dependent on the shifting whims of congress. and if they do, the value of those bonds is devalued and interest rates paid by taxpayers on that debt will increase.
the governors of six states have already issued this warning that, quote, granting puerto rico such unprecedented bankruptcy authority would likely raise the borrowing costs of our states, reducing our ability to invest in vital services in eroding in investor confidence and the whole notion of full faith in credit debt. i suspect that's why virgin islands desperately wants out of this. economist brann of capital policy analytics has noted that, quote, there is evidence that the mere introduction of this legislation is already having adverse effects on the market. the cost of credit default swaps on illinois general obligation debt, which essentially function as insurance against a default, has gone up nearly 100% this year, signaling a burgeoning uncertainty over the protections afforded to full faith and credit debt, unquote. he estimates that even a minor 10 to 15 basis point increase in
financing costs will cost american taxpayers an additional 4 billion to 8 billion dollars. now, promisa could have respected the $18 billion of constitutionally issued debt while applying chapter 9 to the remaining $54 billion of municipal debt. its supporters claim this is their intent. they point to language in title 2 of the bill instructing the control bill to "respect the relative lawful priorities in the constitution other laws or agreements." well, the problem with this is among these other laws is the government's repudiation of its debt. further, the same section instructs the control board to provide adequate funding for public pension systems and includes other contradictory instructions. the only possible interpretation of these conflicting provisions is that the sanctity of the sovereign debt is subject to balancing and therefore subordination to junior claims by the control board. this amendment removes any
ambiguity by protecting the constitutionally issued debt from the effect of this bill. if the supporters of this bill are sincere in their stated objective of wanting puerto rico's constitutionally issued debt to be protected, then they should have no objection to this amendment. if they are not sincere, then they should oppose the amendment but at least openly admit their true intentions and accept responsibility for the billions of dollars of increased interest costs that taxpayers across the country will have to pay on their state debts as markets adjust to this new world in which full faith and credit depends upon the whims of congress. that's not only in the interests of high debt states like california and illinois and new york to protect the full faith and credit guarantees. it's also in the interest of the people of puerto rico to uphold the full faith and credit clause in their constitution because they will desperately need that credibility in order to re-enter the credit market once their affairs are put back in order.
>> is there further discussion? mr. grijalva. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, treasury officials estimate it would take a decade at least to untangle the competing creditor claims that puerto rico is unable to restructure its debt and the situation leads to competing litigation. years of litigation and intercreditor disputes will further stifle economic growth on the island and accelerate the departure of puerto rican families. the amendment will make these things more likely by exempting certain categories of puerto rican debt from the carefully crafted compromise from the voluntary restructuring of all debt that is provided in the underlying bill. i visited the island earlier this month to witness for myself the impact the crisis is having on their lives of our fellow citizens. as i indicated in my opening statement on this markup, this is not the bill that i or the members on my side would have
written. but when measured against the worsening crisis in puerto rico, it is legislation that is necessary. we should not let the narrow interests that this amendment seeks to protect undo the hard work and careful consideration of competing interests that went into drafting the legislation. i urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment and yield back, mr. chairman. >> is there further discussion on this amendment? mr. graves. >> mr. chairman, i share the concerns with the gentleman from california in regard to the precedent it sets, the effect it may have on debt of states, and any future effort to potentially bail out any states in irresponsible financial decisions. but if the gentle lady from wyoming just wants to ask you a quick question earlier you were reading bond issuance documents and you referred to a statement in there that said the investors needed to recognize there was a potential for congress to come back in the future and
potentially change the law. is that accurate? >> that is accurate. >> mr. chairman, i want to ask you a quick question. as i recall i think it's the tenth amendment to the constitution significantly distinguishes the status of astate compared to that of a territory, and in effect we would be prohibited by the constitution from carrying out similar actions here in regard to sovereign state debt. is that an accurate understanding? >> yes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. yield back. >> is there further discussion? >> mr. chairman. >> mr. pierluisi. >> i rise in opposition to this amendment. first, in terms of the impact that the potential restructuring we're authorizing could have in the municipal markets, there's no such negative impact. there has been testimony before this committee, coming from john miller, managing director of nuvene asset management. mr. miller, who oversees over
$113 billion of tax-exempt municipal investments in america, this is one of the largest holders of municipal debt. testified that -- to the contrary. approving this legislation will be generally viewed positively in the markets. it will stabilize puerto rico itself, the government of puerto rico, but it will also have a positive impact elsewhere. traditional mutual funds like alig aligns, burns, and pimco have also stated there's not going to be any impact in the municipal markets at large if we approve this legislation as is. "wall street journal" and bloomberg have also issued editorials supporting this
legislation and saying that it's not going to have a negative impact in the municipal markets at large. to the contrary, if we don't do anything, that could have an impact in the municipal markets because the bonds of puerto rico are held by thousands of investors. institutional, individual. all over america. and we need to get the house in order. now, in terms of the status of puerto rico, again, i have to say, this is not going to set a precedent for the states. i hate that that's the case because i would love puerto rico to be a state. but puerto rico's a territory. and as a territory we can do -- we can treat puerto rico differently than the state so long as we have a rational basis for doing so. that has been the position of the u.s. supreme court for ages now. when we talk about constitutional debt coming from
puerto rico, it's not the same as constitutional debt coming from the states. because puerto rico's constitution is subject to the u.s. constitution and particularly the territorial clause in the u.s. constitution. that's why we have the power to treat general obligation bond holders differently than they're treated elsewhere in america. lastly, i am not promoting being unfair to any class of creditors. all i'm saying is that all of them should be part of the solution, not part of the problem. we cannot simply be listening to one particular class over the others. we should be encouraging them all to engage in negotiations. and once, for example, 2/3 of them agree on a potential restructuring of the debt of any government entity in puerto rico, then this bill allows the
board to take that deal to court and enforce it on all the creditors. that's going to be good for any debt issuer in puerto rico. lastly, when we talk about chapter 9, well, i introduced chapter 9 -- puerto rico to the chapter 9 bill so puerto rico would be introduced as a state. it was in congress's will to do so. so that's not what we're talking about now. we're talking about something similar but again is in the hands of a board that wouldn't happen in any state. it's happening only in puerto rico as a territory. i oppose this amendment. >> is there further discussion? mr. fleming. >> well, let me say first of all that the fact puerto rico is a territory and not a state does not in any way prevent these actions from being taken for a
state as well. there is no constitutional or legal barrier to doing that. this opens the way. psychologically and in every other way to do that. with respect to the general bondholders deciding to sell out to other funds on the way because they heard rumors of congress beginning to intervene, that's the whole problem here. if congress -- if word gets out there that congress is willing to intervene and to create a retrogresive chapter 9 bankruptcy system, then of course all of that's being eroded. the full faith and credit is being eroded and no longer applies. because if it can be reversed at any point then what is it worth to begin with? and i yield the remainder of my time to mr. mcclintock. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i want to address the argument that while the states are different than territories and this can't
possibly apply, that chapter 9 can't possibly apply to a state, well, of course chapter 9 can be applied to states. chapter 9 was specifically written for municipalities, which are subdivisions of sta s states. the only reason that chapter 9 has not applied to the states is because congress has never threatened to do so because doing so undermines the full faith and credit guarantees of their state constitutions. this measure makes clear that congress has now changed that status quo, that it is now willing to breach that faith. and once we have done so, full faith and credit is no longer an ironclad guarantee that your bonds will be back by the full faith and credit of the issuing entity. claims this couldn't possibly happen ignores the fact that it is already happening. as i stated, we're watching the insurance instruments for state general obligation bonds already
increasing just on the prospect of us taking this action. six state governors have already issued warnings that this will affect their states. and as i said, i think the virgin islands clearly understands the threat to their own debt of this measure and the spiraling interest costs that it will mean. so again, if you don't want to protect the full faith and credit of the states, vote for this measure but accept responsibility for the aftermath. >> further discussion. mr. macarthur. >> mr. chairman, i know we've been at this for a while but i think this is important enough that i want to speak on it as well. this needs to fail for the same reason the similar prior amendment failed. we're trying to play judge and jury. we're trying to decide among 20-plus classes of bondholder
here. and i understand the intent, but we simply are not equipped to adjudicate all the different claims of all the different bondholders sitting in this room today. for example, very briefly, let's take a widow who happened to buy the very first general obligation bond that was issued in excess of puerto rico's constitutional limit because some bonds were sold in excess of what they were allowed. that widow bought her bond -- it's one bond after it was constitutionally guaranteed, she thought she was buying a general obligation bond. and let's compare her to a hedge fund. i have nothing against hedge funds. i've been involved in them. but a hedge fund who bought four times removed a general obligation bond from somebody else. it was bought from puerto rico and then sold and sold and sold. and a hedge fund buys it. mr. mcclintock wants to adjudicate the rights of those parties here and now by just --
by declaration. it's a mistake for us to do that. let the control board apply the letter that we've laid down here in the bill that the respective rights of the parties have to be honored, and let them adjudicate. let them certify claims that go to the court for further review. but let's not try to exclude nearly 20% of the bonds by fiat here in the committee room. i yield back. >> is there further discussion? let me reiterate i have to vote in opposition to this as well for the reasons that mr. macarthur just said. it goes toward exempting a class that may not or may not have been legally done and does not allow us to make the oversight -- not control, oversight board to actually make that kind of adjudication for which they're in power. is there other discussion? any amendments? if not we'll vote.
all those in favor of the amendment say aye. opposed say nay. in the peasant chair the nos have it. roll call please. >> mr. bishop. mr. bishop votes no. mr. grijalva votes no. mr. young. mr. young votes no. miss napolitano. miss ma nah politano votes no. mr. gohmert votes yes. mr. vordalia. mr. lamb-born votes yes. mr. costa votes no. mr. whitman votes yes. mr. soblan. mr. fleming. mr. fleming votes yes. miss songas. miss songas votes no. mr. mcclintock votes yes. mr. pierluisi votes no. mr. thompson. mr. thompson votes no. mr. huffman. mr. huffman votes no. miss lummis votes no. mr. ruiz votes no. mr. benishek. mr. benishek votes no. mr. lonethal. mr. lowenthal votes no. mr. duncan.
mr. cartwright. mr. cart rite votes in. mr. gosar votes no. mr. labrador. mr. lab roh dor votes no. miss torres. miss torres votes no. mr. lamalfa votes yes. mr. dingell votes no. mr. denham. mr. gallego votes no. mr. cook. mr. cook votes yes. miss capps. miss capps votes no. mr. westerman votes yes. mr. polis. mr. polis votes no. mr. graves. >> no. >> mr. graves votes no. mr. clay. mr. clay votes no. mr. newhouse. mr. newhouse votes yes. mr. zinke votes no. mr. heiss. mr. hytes votes yes. miss radewagen votes yes. mr. moony. mr. hardy. mr. hardy votes yes. mr. lahood votes yes. >> is there anyone here who hasn't voted or wishes to change votes? the clerk will report.
>> mr. chairman, on this vote the yeas are 12 and the nays are 27. >> amendment does not pass. going to ask at this point for the clerk to pass out all of the remaining ones that were filed late specifically fleming 8 0rks fleming 92, bishop 2 and fleming 91. as revised. the revised fleming 91. and then as soon as that's done mr. labrador i think you're the next one in line. and labrador 043. no, no, no. that's the next one we'll be doing. just pass the crap out.
>> will labrador -- i'm sorry. >> this memorial day weekend on american history tv on c-span 3 saturday evening at 6:00 eastern on the civil war. >> sherman could not have agreed more. and by the time he captured atlanta in september 1864 his thoughts on the matter had fully matured. once again, a rebel army had been defeated and another major city had fallen and still the confederates would not give up.
so rather than continue the futile war against people, he would now wage war against property. >> georgia historical society president todd gross on union general william tecumseh sherman, arguing that sherman's march to the sea campaign was hard war rather than total war and that his targets were carefully selected to diminish southern resolve. sunday evening at 6:00 on american artifacts. take a tour with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. viewing some of the oldest rooms in the capital like the republican leaders' suite, conference room and his private office. >> and i had the good fortune to actually be here on august 28th, 1963 when martin luther king made the "i have a dream" speech. now, i confess, i couldn't hear a word because i was down at this end of the mall. he was on the lincoln memorial. looking out at throngs. literally thousands and thousands of people. but you knew you were in the presence of something really significant. >> then at 8:00 on the presidency, former aides to lyndon johnson and richard nixon
talk about the role of the presidents during the vietnam era. >> lbj anguished about that war every single day. and that is not an overstatement. the daily body counts. the calls either to or from the situation room, often at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning to see if the carrier pilots had returned. >> historian h.w. brand is joined by former lbj aide tom johnson and former nixon aide alexander butterfield to explore the president's foreign policies during the conflict. monday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. eastern on real america our five-part series on the 1975 church committee hearings convened to investigate the intelligence activities of the cia, fbi, irs, and the nsa. the testimony by cia director william colby, the fbi's james adams, nsa director general lou allen, fbi informants, and others.
>> we are here to review the major findings of our full investigation of fbi domestic intelligence, including the co-intel program and other programs aimed at domestic targets. fbi surveillance of law-abiding citizens and groups, political abuses of fbi intelligence, and several specific cases of unjustified intelligence operations. >> for the complete american history tv weekend schedule go to cspan.org. on wednesday food security scholars, produce growers and non-profit leaders testified before the house agriculture committee on efforts to reduce food waste by suppliers and consumers. and maine representative she willy ree discussed her proposed legislation called the food recovery act. this is about two hours.
>> good morning. this hearing on the committee of agriculture, food waste from the field to the table, will come to order. i've asked david scott to open us with a prayer. david? >> dear heavenly father, we come before your throne of grace to first of all give thanks. we thank you for so many blessings you bestow upon us, blessings we sometimes do not even know. we thank you for your holy spirit that intercedes for us on our behalf. we thank you, dear heavenly father, for this hearing, for what could be more important than the food that we get on the table for needy people, and in this case, dear heavenly father, as we discuss the issue of food waste we hope that you will
implant within this committee our resolve to do as much as we can to eliminate the food waste, to help our farmers be able to have the labor to get food out of the fields and into the hands and at the tables of those people who need it most. and father, we ask this in your name in the name of your son jesus christ, amen. >> amen. thank you, david. well, good morning. since i became agriculture chairman we've held more than 70 hearings and invited a broad range of experts including people in the field to share their knowledge of everything from the futures markets to the farmers markets. the committee doesn't agree all the time on every issue but one of the reasons we're able to work in a bipartisan manner is that we remember well-meaning people can have different ideas about how to achieve the same goal, whatever the issue may be. because we have a different way of getting there doesn't mean one of us is wrong and that this is sometimes -- and this is
something we lose sight of in america today. good public policy is not a zero sum game. if advocates, members, whoever they maybe, are closed-minded and aren't open to compromise, it all but ensures retention of the status quo regardless of the issue. an example of where we engage in a variety of stakeholders is in the review of food waste. i commend my colleague from maine she willy pingree for putting this on the congressional radar. today's hearing maybe the first time the house agriculture committee is publicly engaging on this issue but it will not be our last. 40% of the food grown in the country is wasted. that amounts to 133 billion pounds of food wasted. that's billion with a b. considering we have about 45 million people consuming -- or 45 million people receiving food stamp assistance through snap, i believe this is a tremendous opportunity for to us take a closer look at our food chain and figure out a way to ensure that food grown in this country reaches the dinner table and not the trash can. speaking two weeks ago at the food waste summit, secretary
vilsack commented that avoiding food waste loss could save u.s. families on average $1,500 a year and limiting food waste globally could help prevent hunger and malnourishment in 825 to 850 million people worldwide who are not getting adequate food. tackling food waste in this country is and should be a non-partisan issue that would be most successful by engaging everyone in the food chain from the field to the table. it will take the collaboration of all stakeholders to be successful. as we begin this review we'll undoubtedly identify issues that seem easy to resolve yet are more complex than they appear. we will likewise identify other issues that have already been addressed but simply require collaboration and what amounts to a public releases campaign to raise awareness. two such issues that congress has acted upon that we should highlight today are the recently enacted permanent tax deduction for food donations and the good samaritan food donation act. the permanent tax deduction for food donations was identified in recent legislation and was enacted as part of the last omnibus.
the second issue is one we hear an awful lot about yet was addressed years ago by our former colleague and vice chair of the committee the late bill emerson. many business when's given the opportunity to donate perfectly safe and wholesome food are reluctant because of liability concerns. the bill emerson good snare tann food donation act enacted in 1996 fully addresses this concern. i wish to place into the record a memorandum of opinion drauft drafted by the department of justice for usda general counsel that not only spells out the direct protection of the emerson act but also prescribes a pre-emptive effect on state laws that may not provide the same level of protection. we'll begin preparing for this hearing -- when we began preparing for this hearing, we reached out to representative fingerling who i am happy is here with us today, will shortly offer her introductory comments of her own. witnesses that are invited represent a broad range of perspective and expertise but in no way represents the entirety of the community addressing this challenge. while this hearing is just one element of our review, we will also invite members of staff as well as other interested stakeholders to attend an
evening -- an event later this afternoon here in this hearing room on the balcony to see what some of the organizations are doing to address food waste. that event will begin at approximately 1:30 today. i will now recognize our ranking member for any opening remarks he may have. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and welcome to today's witnesses and congressman pingree, appreciate your leadership on this issue. welcome to the committee. i'm probably not the only one who finds the term sell by and best by confusing. this confusion leads to a lot of food waste we see in this country. and i'm glad that we're look at this issue today. american consumers are increasingly less connected to the farm and to where food comes from. and i think a lot of people no longer view food as valuable. when i was growing up, my mom used every part of the animal. but that's no longer the case. food waste has increased. producers have done such a good
job of creating an abundant food supply that a lot of folks don't think twice about tossing out food that may not look perfect or has surpassed a best by or sell by date stamped on the box, whatever that means. this is the challenge but i also think it presents a great opportunity for production agriculture. while many have no problem throwing food away, many americans are still struggling to feed their families. there's a role for farnellers and ranchers to play in this. and they can and should step up to the plate and help meet these needs. again, i'm happy we're beginning to explore this issue and look forward to a constructive conversation. i think this is an area that we can work across party lines and have a diverse coalition to tackle food waste in this country. i look forward to the testimony and yield back. >> thank you. the chair requests other members submit their opening statements for the record so that our witnesses may begin their testimony to ensure there's ample time for questions. i'd like to welcome our first panel to the witness table.
the honorable shelly pingree, congresswoman from the great state of maine. miss pingree, you can begin when you're ready. >> thank you very much, chairman conaway and to rank member peterson. i really appreciate that you're heeleding this hearing today and giving me an opportunity to say a few words about it. and i particularly appreciate you remembered to call it the great state of maine. so obviously, this is an issue that people have been increasingly concerned about, and i've been very grateful to have a chance 20 work with it and as all of you said work across the aisle and with a whole diverse group of interests that are concerned with the fact that 40% of the food as you mentioned is wasted in this country. particularly people on the agriculture committee know how much work goes into growing food, how much water is lost in the process of growing food, how long it has to be transported around the country and just that gives you a sense of how much we are wasting besides the food in terms of energy and other resources in doing this. the other big concern is that we
do have 50 million people in this country going hungry and when there's confusion around date labeling or how food can be disposed of or the good samaritan laws that we've talked about, it just makes it that much more difficult for restaurants and retail stores to find out how to make sure that uneaten food and beyond the label food gets to those food banks and to those people in need. that's part of what we're proposing to look at in the bill that we submitted called the food recovery act. it's wonderful to see that the usda and the epa together have announced a food reduction goal. they did that last year. and their goal is to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030. so an ambitious goal. but i think also showing that there are great opportunities there. i'm fortunate enough to serve on the agriculture appropriations subcommittee. we've been looking for ways to work with them on funding areas that could make a difference in solving this problem. and also work on some of the same things with the fda.
there's certainly no single way to go about solving this prosh. and i know as we dig deeper into this today and we hear from the wonderful panel you've chosen you'll start to hear that it's something we have to face on all fronts, from helping consumers to understand differently, giving opportunities to farmers who want to make sure food gets into the right hands and helping retailers in particular and restaurant owners to reduce that waste or to make sure it goes places we want. in my own state we have a supermarket chain that is also committed to zero food waste, which makes sure everything gets sold in the store that possibly can, even if some of it looks a little ugly or misshapen. then making sure it gets to food banks and places where people are in need. and footbally making sure that food can tha can't go anywhere else either goes to a compost facility or an aerobic digester. most food waste ends up in municipal landfills. and for those of you who've served on municipal government you know that's one of the increasing costs. it also produces methane gas,
which is much more toxic than many of the gases we already worry about. whereas if it's converted to compost or an aerobic digestion we're either left with wonderful-looking soil or producing energy with that food waste. making sure federal funds are available to municipalities who want to do this is another part of this and something that i think can certainly be dealt with in a variety of committees. just in closing i want to mention the one thing that ranking member peterson and i were just talking about. i'm sure all of you on the committee and most of us have experienced this problem perhaps in your own household where you look at a package, it's got a label on it, and think, okay, this is probably still good, we should eat it. yet someone else in your household looks at it and says oh, no, look at that date, we've got to throw it away. we actually submitted a bill last week with senator blumenthal about date labeling to try to bring some sensibility into this. and because we hear so much about the domestic disagreements that go on we thought we should call this the domestic harmony bill to reduce some of those
issues that people face. but basically, manufacturers have joined us. we were endorsed in that bill by campbell's soup and nestle's and a variety of other companies have already come forward because they find it confusing too. basically, they may represent something to that individual company, but it really doesn't mean you can't eat that food. so our idea is to ask the usda and the fda to create a label that says expires on for those foods that do have a safety issue and you should know when it is too late to eat it and the other one says best if used by. the bag of crackers is best if you use it by a certain date but nothing will happen if you eat it a month later or the next season which you return -- when you return to your summer cabin or find it in a box you never unpacked. chances are that is perfectly good food. we would like to bring
sensibility and great for manufacturers and takes the stigma out that food is donated and there are 20 states that prohibit food donations if that date has passed. and if you think about it, we are keeping 20 states away from giving food to people in need and it is completely arbitrary date. so it seems like that is one of the ones that is extremely cost effective. it would create much less waste. something that most of us agree on and you'll find most of the manufacturers and others agree on it as well. so thank you very much for giving me a moment to open this up today. thank you for taking on this topic. i look forward to working with you in any way i can and thank you for giving me a little bit of the nostalgia to return to the committee which i served on in my early days and i enjoyed working with you and being in this room. >> thank you for being here and appreciate your comments this is morning and for your leadership in getting this initiative started. and we'll look forward to pitching in with you on -- i shouldn't say pitching in. but nevertheless helping in with reduction of food waste. >> bee careful about that baseball stuff.
>> we'll transition to the second panel. shelly, thank you very much for being with us today. i appreciate it. i would like to welcome the second panel of witnesses to the table. dana gunders, a senior scientist, national resources defense council, san francisco, california. we have mr. jesse fink, the director of mission point and in norwalk, connecticut. mr. john oxford, president and ceo of l and m companies in raleigh, north carolina. meghan stas, senior director and grocery manufacturers association here in washington, d.c. and diana aviv, ceo feeding america in chicago, illinois and emily leib, the director of food law policy clinic, harvard law school, jamaica plains, massachusetts. i'll let everybody get to their seats. all right. miss gunders, if you will begin when you are ready, ma'am.
>> ranking member peterson and members of the committee thank you for inviting me to testify today and be willing to explore this issue. any name is dana gunders, i'm a senior scientist at the national resources defense council and the author of a widely cited report on food waste and a book called "the waste-free kitchen handbook" which is a guide to wasting less food. imagine walking out of the grocery stores with five bags in the parking lot and dropping two and not bothering to pick them up. it seems crazy but that is what we're doing when we are wasting 40% of our food. we're leaving entire fields unharvested and eliminating produce for looks. serving massive portions, throwing out food just because it is past the sell-by date and eating out instead of what is in our frig.
now imagine a farm that covers three quarters of the state of california and uses as much water as california, ohio, and texas combined. when you harvest that farm, it is enough food to fill a tractor-trailer every 20 seconds and then it drives all over the country and except instead of going to people to eat it, to goes straight to the land fill. that is essentially what we are doing today. food is the number one product entering our land fills today. this is expensive. all tolled, america spends up to $218 billion or 1.3% of gdp each year on wasted food. beyond money, we're wasting nutrition. more than 1250 calories per capita every day. that is three times the caloric requirements of the entire food in the secure population of the country. and we have not always been so wasteful. in the u.s. we waste 50% more
food per capita than we did in the 1970s. this means that there was once a time when we wasted far less and therefore it gives me hope that we could get there again. wasting less food is to the food sector as energy efficiency is to the energy sector. the cheapest and easiest way to meet growing demand. the u.n. projects increased demand will lead to a 60% growth in food production by 2050 and almost a quarter of that predicted demand could be off-set by addressing food waste. there are far too many causes of food waste to address in a few short minutes but i think it is important to note that wasting food happens to the best of us. as individuals and businesses. we've all had to toss moldy strawberries or clean out the science experiment in the back
of the frige and good news is that unlike many of the thorny issues that i'm sure you deal with, this one feels solvable. no one wants to waste food. and people strangely love diving into this topic. i have been amazed at the -- amazed at the energy and enthusiasm people have when they come up to me and tell me they found a way to used the wrinkled tomatoes in a sauce or something like that. and because there is direct savings to be had, this enthusiasm has extended to the business and entrepreneurial communities as well and even modest savings can make a difference. i was asked to give an over view of the problem but in the last minute i would like to suggest a few solutions. i would like to note that the epa has prioritized prevention solutions and food donations over things like animal feed and composting. first address consumer waste. from the limited information we do have households appear to be the largest source of food waste. we recently launched a national media campaign with the ad counsel to address this called
save the food with a goal of providing consumers both the inspiration and information to waste less in their homes. if the government were to embrace this campaign and provide additional funding it could vastly extend the reach and the impact of the campaign. second, standardized food date labels as we've already heard. because they misinterpret date labels consumers are unknowingly and unnecessarily tossing perfectly good food and other witnesses will address this. third, reduce waste within federal government agencies. how much is the federal government spending to buy food that ultimately never gets eaten? this could -- addressing this could both reduce agency costs and also incubating model solutions that others could follow. fourth, address data needs. right now there are some very basic questions that we can't answer. and lastly, support the food recovery act. introduced by representative pingery. it attacks food wastes and includes solutions for many of the discussions in my written testimony. wasting less food is something
everyone could get behind and in some cases there is even money to be saved. i suspect should you pursue solutions to the movement there is a broad base of support behind you. thank you. >> mr. fink. five minutes. >> thank you, chairman conaway, ranking member peterson and the entire agricultural committee for the opportunity to testify today. i'm honored. my name is jesse fink and i'm here as a representative of the refed multi-stakeholder food waste initiative. i would like to dedicate my testimony to my wife betsy fink, a farmer like many members of congress who have committed their lives to growing food. i would like to dedicate the testimony to the 50 million americans who struggle with hunger. in a resource endowed country like ours we should conquer hunger and conserve fresh water and create new jobs thrugh the food waist innovation.
my journey has been long and shaped by my career as an entrepreneur and farmer and a investor and a philanthropist. i helped fund priceline.com powered by the internet with consumers looking for cheaper tickets. for the past decade betsy and i have learned firsthand how challenging and rewarding it is to be a farmer. similar to price line, we see valuable perishable products going to waste. two weeks ago we asked a team at mission point partners to address a strategy to address the food waste systematically focusing on the cost effective and scaleable solutions. the huge gap in data was apparent. what resulted was the creation of refed, a nonprofit initiative that recently released a road map to reduce u.s. food waste by 20% in conjunction with detroit consulting and rrs. we've built an advisory council committed to solving food waste. and this includes farmers, manufacturers, retailers, waste profiters and government leaders, many of which are here today. and addressing this could address three of the nation's
largest problems. first and foremost is hunger. our research found that solutions could double the amount of food donated from businesses to hunger relief organizations. second is economic development. reducing f fd waste boosts the economy with a conservative estimate of 15,000 jobs created from innovation. in addition, solutions available today could create $100 billion of net economic value over the next decade. this includes $6 billion in annual savings for consumers, $2 billion in annual potential for profit for businesses, and a reduced burden on taxpayers, including lower municipal disposal costs. much of the economic development will go toward food recovery and composting and digestion. and food waste solutions will conserve up to 1.5% of the country's freshwater and this is lost on farms. in addition reducing food waste will decrease methane emissions from landfills and increase the soil through composting. four cross cutting actions are needed to quickly cut 20% of
waste and put the u.s. on track to achieve the broader usda epa goal of a 50% food waste reduction by 2030. first education for consumers and for employees of food businesses. second, innovation. refed has an in ovation data base of over 200 companies and large companies are supporting entrepreneurs. the results are an opportunity for government mechanisms to support their ingenuity. right here in washington, d.c. companies like misfit juicery and fruit cycle and hungry harvest are start-ups that utilize food that would go to waste. the road map highlights a full spectrum of capital including grants and government incentives and private investment to accelerate the transition to a low-waste economy. financing innovation is required to galvanize the $18 billion
needed to achieve a 20% reduction in food waste nationwide. there are opportunities to explore public-private partnerships innovative impact investing to support local companies infrastructure or composting facilities or government funding for early stage technologies. lastly is policy. food waste is a complex issue but three federal policy priorities stand out as a highly impactable and achievable today. first, make it easier for food businesses to donate food for the hungry. second, standardize date labelling through legislation or voluntary industry action. and finally strengthen and incentives for food waste solutions at the local level such as tax incentives for composting and anaerobic digestion. the time is now for our country to embrace the solvable problem and by working together turn it into an opportunity. we can take ten steps to aleve -- take steps to alleviate
our economy and boost our natural resources. i thank you for the opportunity to testify and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you mr. fink. mr. oxford, five minutes. >> chairman conaway and ranking member peterson and members of the committee i thank you for the testimony to testify today on the food waste. i'm john oxford, president and ceo of l&m companies based in raleigh, north carolina, founded in 1964 we are a family agricultural business that grows markets and distributes fresh produce. our products in our crops include a variety of vegetables, potatoes, onions, melons, apples, pears an more. in addition to my day job, i'm with the marketing association that market fresh fruits and vegetables. pma represents more than 2700 member companies in 45 countries. in the united states, our members throughout the supply chain from growing processing and manufacturing distribution and wholesaling and retail and food service handle more than
90% of the fresh produce sold to consumers. my testimony today comes from the perspective of a grower. dealing with food waste is a complex issue that requires a suite of solutions. when fresh produce goes to waste, we lose the fruits or vegetables and the inputs, labor, energy and water and fertilizer and if the product has been harvested, cooled and transported, we lose even more. thus, the inventive for producers to minimize waste and loss is significant. our first preference and our goal is that fresh produce reaches its highest and best use, feeding people. at l and m we employ a range of options for produce that is unmarketable and fresh for the consumer. we use outleted not sold through the intended channel. we try to find alternative markets or used and in addition and we supply hundreds of thousands of pounds of healthful fresh produce every year to charities including farmers feeding flo, feeding america,
operation blessing and a host of others.r, feeding america, operation blessing and a host of others.i, feeding america, operation blessing and a host of others.d, feeding america, operation blessing and a host of others.a, feeding america, operation blessing and a host of others. in my role as chairman elect of pma i'm excited about the innovative approaches some of my colleagues are taking to further reduce food waste. in fact, most of you probably have one of the earliest examples of innovation to reduce food waste in your refrigerator at home and we provided some at your desk this morning. baby carrots. they were born from a concern over food waste. misshapen carrots were cut and shaped into the now common baby carrots. in fact, today baby carrots represent 70% of all carrot sales and according to a recent washington post article, this effort to reduce waste is now doubled carrot consumption. recently cisco's produce distributor fresh point introduced the unusual but usable program. though fresh point is a food
service distributor it partners with produce growers and taking ugly or imperfect produce that goes to waste and find consumers interested in utilizing this. this reduces the waste caused by cosmetic imperfections and the customers get what they want at a better price point. red jackets in new york like many apple and pear processors takes the residual after juicing and uses them to feed livestock. this reduces what goes to the landfill and is an additional supply chain for the grower. and we've provided samples of these cakes at your seats today. and gill's onions, a california based producer and processor installed an advanced energy recovery system that converts 100% of its daily onion residual such as juice into renewable energy and cattle feed. instead of the disposal cost for the 300,000 pounds of annual onion waste, gills onions
actually saves approximately $700,000 per year on energy and disposal cost and has significantly reduced its environmental footprint. a final area i would like to address is the importance of a strong industry and government partnership to address food waste. encouraging innovation such as new variety development through traditional modern breeding practices can bring us traits that enhance the crop's ability to with stand stresses due to climate and pest. likewise, food and vegetable shelf life making them more durable for the transportation process will reduce waste. and we need the federal government in the partner of research. the research programs have done great things for our industry and specialty crops in general. and last but certainly not least, we need help on labor issues. many growers are across the u.s. find difficulty finding farm workers and produce is too often left to rot in the field. i recognize this is a difficult
issue to tackle politically, but we need congress to take action. significantly preducing our nation's food waste is a challenging endeavor. l and mvp and the produce marketing stand ready to partner with you and my fellow witnesses today to move us closer to a zero waste system. thank you again mr. chairman for holding this important hearing and this committee's attention to the critical issues, thank you mr. oxford. miss stasz, did i butcher your name. >> you are recognized for five minutes. >> members of the committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate this morning on this important issue. my name is meghan stasz, i'm the senior director for the grocery manufacturers association representing the food bench and consumer products industry. today i'm speaking on behalf of
the food waste reduction alliance, 30 leading companies formed in 2011 by gma, the food marketing institute and the national restaurant association. fwra commends committee for holding this hearing and for your interest in finding solutions. i'll make four key points today. first, we know that food waste is a very real problems and we have a national goal of having it by 2030. everyone has a role to play to get there. second, the food industry has already stepped forward and made considerable progress. fwra brings together manufacturers retailers and food service companies around three goals -- reduce food waste generated, increase food donated and recycle unavoidable food waste. gma members are working hard to minimize waste as well. in 2014 our company recycled nearly 94% of the food waste from manufacturing and in 2015 donated over 800 million pounds of food. third, we know that more needs to be done and our industry is
taking new steps. gma and fmi are taking the lead on date labelling and reducing the consumer confusion. date labelling is important and we're addressing it. but context is important and that is my fourth point. date labelling is not the solution to food waste. there is no silver bullet solution here. it needs to be tackled in a range of ways. an industry can't solve this problem alone. consumers are responsible for 44% of the food waste in landfills. if we're going to make a serious dent, we need to help consumers. but reducing food waste is a priority. that is why we created fwra. co chaired by on agra and said you canno and wegmans, we have four areas of focus, assessment, best practice and communication and policy. from this work we've seen really tremendous innovation. conagra who makes potpies found they could change the way they were placing pie dough and reduce the amount trimmed off the edge. this change saved them over 230
tons of pie dough in a year. that is food waste that never happened. retailers increase food donation by over a billion pounds in the last decade. kroger is turning their food waste in energy. restaurants are working to reduce waste. yum brands alone donated over 184 million pounds of food since 1992. but let me talk about date labelling. in january gma and fmi board worked to address confusion around date labelling and 25 companies met here last week. it is crucial to provide consumers with the clarity they need. 40 states have laws regulating date labelling. this products in some parts of the country is contributing to confusion but more needs to be done. date label can tackle 8% of the total over all food waste going to landfill. this doesn't mean we should do nothing but clearly more solutions are needed. and businesses are facing challenges to food waste. supply chain challenges and food safety is paramount so if a food
bank has maxed out refrigerated truck space, food winds up in a landfill. similarly, diverting food waste away from landfills require infrastructure that makes sense. food waste is heavy and it is wet and it requires freak went pick up. if you have to put that material on a diesel truck and drive it hundreds of miles to the next facility, you have lost your environmental benefit. it also has to make business sense. ad can cost millions to build and operate and composting facilities could face permitting challenges. so even when a company thinks they've found a solution, the composting facility can be shut down and the a.d. could go out of business and the business is back to square one. we're also seeing conflicting regulations at the federal state and municipal level. in some states food waste is banned from landfill but there is no infrastructure. and finally consumers, they are the single largest contributor and our save the food campaign is a great example of what we need to see to move the needle here.
so in closing, while challenges do exist, the opportunity is enormous and we look forward to working with the committee and our industry partners and others to reduce food waste throughout the supply chain. thank you for your time. >> thank you. ms. leib, five minutes. >> mr. chairman, ranking member peterson and members of the committee i'm honored to testify before you today. each year we waste 70 billion pounds of food suitable for donation. at the same time people in every community across our nation struggle with food insecurity. to help end hunger, feeding america works with 198 food banks, 60,000 local food agencies, and 148 corporate partners. together we provide 4.5 billion pounds of food to more than 46 million americans each year, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. of the food we distribute, more than half of it. about 2.6 billion pounds, would otherwise go to landfill. and yet this still does not meet the need. significant gaps remain between the food low-income people need and the resources they have to buy it. diverting excess food to donation provides a triple
benefit. it reduces hunger, it protects our environment, and it helps businesses with sustainability. but perishable food must move safely and quickly from the donor to the people who need it. doing so requires innovative practices, technology know-how and costly physical infrastructure like refrigerated trucks and cold-storage capacity. i want to share with you two examples of innovative platforms that we have developed to divert more excess food to donation. produce matchmaker is an online portal and ordering system that helps produce donors connect with food bank. it is available 24 hours aday and it is a last food -- allows food banks to accept donations in real-time, moving produce to hungry families more quickly. food banks can order produce donations by the pallet rather
than the truckload. this saves transportation costs and allows cost-effective rescue of smaller amounts of produce. produce matchmaker is already being used by more than 150 food banks and state associations in fy 16 and collected 125 million pounds of produce with food banks across 40 states. it will help us recover and distribute significant amounts of produce that is currently wasted. meal connect is our new online platform to facilitate the easy, safe and fast donation of fresh food from grocery and convenient stores and other locations. donors engage online when they have product and are matched to the local food bank. it is the only matching donation software that fully vets donors and recipients to ensure that proper food safety protocols are followed throughout the prose.p.
using meal connect on a smartphone or pc simplified the logistics with a near pantry that could accept it. this is local food rescue in the sharing economy. meal connect is enabled starbucks to launch food share which will provide an additional 50 million meals ore the next five years as the program rolls out to 7600 starbucks stores across the u.s. but produce matchmaker and meal connect won't solve the problem alone. additional investment in technology and physical infrastructure are needed. the improvements to the enhanced tax deduction for donated food enacted last december will also have a significant impact on food recovery. but expanding the deduction to include farmers and growers, in making it permanent for -- excuse me, for all businesses,
we expect that nearly 1 billion additional meals that would have been wasted now will be donated. thanks to you and your colleagues for passing this critical legislation. without it, we would be worse off. to continue food -- increasing food recovery, additional investments to identify and scale promising program models are definitely required. policy changes such as standardizing date labels on food and providing usda grants to small businesses and nonprofits to facilitate food recovery would also have a significant impact. as you examine this critical issue and begin preparing for the next farm bill, we stand ready to work with you. i encourage you also to visit your local food bank to learn about food recovery within your district. and thank you very much for the opportunity to testify. >> well, i thank our witnesses for the testimony. >> there is one more. >> oh, i'm sorry miss leib.
i jumped right on the end. >> that is okay. for five minutes. >> did my time pass so fast? >> yeah, it did. my apologies. i'm so sorry. miss leib, five minutes. >> thank you chairman conaway and peterson for the opportunity to speak with you. my name is emily leib and i direct the harvard law food clinic. we've worked on reducing food waste for many years and we've come to see intimately the challenges to food reduction and food recovery and i want to highlight a few issues. first you've heard confusion over date labels is a major cause of food waste. the refed report found that standardizing date labels is the most cost effective of 27 of the different solutions they examined to reduce food waste and could divert 398,000 tons of food waste. we've identified two key challenges with date labels. first, in the dating game which
we published in 2013 with the nrdc we showed that there's a dizzying array of state laws created to fill the void in federal regulation on this issue. 41 states and d.c. regulate date labels but no two states have the same law which is evidence that these laws are not based in science or sound public policy. new york, for example, does not regulate dates on any food products, but its neighbor massachusetts requires dates on all perishable and semiperishable products and then heavily restricts sale or donation after the date. second, we found that consumers are confused. on most foods date labels are not intended to communicate safety. instead, they signal a manufacturer's estimate of how long the food will be at its best taste. but consumers toss past date food because of safety fears. in a national survey my clinic conducted this april with the national consumers league and the johns hopkins center for livable future we found that over one-third of consumers always throw food away after the date and 84% do so at least occasionally.
interestingly, a third of the consumers also believes the federal government regulates date labels. through our work on date labels we've also learned that safety is a risk for certain food products such as deli meats or unpasteurized dairy if they're consumed after the date. that also isn't communicating clearly to convict assumers. moving forward, we could align with what most other countries do and as representative pingree discussed require a standard quality label on foods where freshness is a concern and a standard safety label on food that carries a safety risk aft date. we've been excited to see sow port for standard date labels from companies like walmart, general mills and nestle and campbells. standardizing the labels could
help consumers make decisions, facilitate donations of past date food and a win for companies. moving on, i'd like to talk about food donation. several of my for examples and the chairman mentioned the fear of exposure to liability which hampers food donation. but strong liability protects already exist. in 1996 congress passed the bill emerson good samaritan act which provides a very strong federal floor of civil and criminal liability protection to both food donors and the nonprofit organizations that distribute food to needy individuals. these organizations are
protected as long as they don't act with intentional misconduct or gross negligence. but 67% of manufacturers and 54% of retailers still say that the main reason they don't donate is because of fear of liability. food recovery organizations report that many donors don't know about this legislation or that if they do know they're concerned about the lack of authoritative interpretation of some of the key terms. the act has not been challenged in court so there are no judicial interpretations of it, and it was never assigned to any agency so there are no agencies that provide federal guidance or fill in these gaps or provide education about the act. congress could call on an agency to provide guidance and raise awareness about the act to help address these challenges. closely related to liability is the issue of food safety regulations. in our federalist system, regulations of grocery stores and restaurants takes place at the state level. state health codes vary, but they're mostly based on the fda food code. however, the food code does not inner corporate language around food donation so states lack federal guidance around safe food donation. including food donations and the
food code are other federal guidance could help states clarify their safety laws and better prioritize food donation. lastly, i want to mention the opportunity for innovation, organizations have begun to test different entrepreneurial approaches to food recovery. several of our client organizations are testing technologies that connect donors and food recovery organizations that convict virtue nonconforming fruits and vegetables into new products or apply retail models to provide surplus food at a low cost. as often happens, these innovations could not be predicted with when the laws were first passed so several existing laws like the emerson act actually posed barriers to the viability of some of these innovations. this committee could address barriers like this and create a friendlier climate for innovations. liability protections and food safety guidance and supporting of food waste and increase the amount of healthy safe food recovered. thank you. >> thank you. and good recovery from my rudeness. members will be be recognized in
order of arrival and i appreciate everyone's understand understanding. minutes. sitting here listening to you i suddenly realized that i was among some early adopters of this issue of not wasting food in the sense that as a young mp at ft. hood we would race across ft. hood with sirens blaring and red lights flashing to get to the mcdonald's at 2:00 in the morning to get all of the unsold big macs that we would then take back to headquarters and pass around to our colleagues. so early on i was an early adopter, in addition to growing up in a family where nothing was wasted. ms. leib, would you talk to us a little bit about the differences or challenges differences between rural food banks and urban food banks in the sense of produce, how they get it, access to it. we've heard some of the retailers here a week or so ago talking about particularly small retailers in rural america have a hard time getting produce. could you talk to us about how food banks in urban and rural areas are approaching those challenges differently. >> the challenge facing rural banks are different than those in urban food banks just transportation alone is probably one of the biggest challenges.
recently i had the opportunity since relatively new to feeding america to go around the country and have listening sessions, and in the sessions that brought together most of the rural food banks, the number one challenge that they saw that they faced was transportation. in fact, they asked for us to find donations for replacement of their tires because they had to get to such far distances. but it's not only on the side of the distribution of the food. it's also with regard to the people who are facing hunger. their ability to be able to get together and come to a central location to receive the food is also a challenge. i don't think it's a challenge that we've solved. also because most of the people facing hunger or more of them are in cities and in concentrated areas, there may be an inclination to want to go to where most of the people are, but yet the needs in the rarely communities are just as great. so we have a balance issue when there are limited resources. >> we did have one retailer talk about the idea of setting up centralized points within the rural communities where they could take the donated produce. ms. stasz, you said i think we had some 40 different state rules or regulations with respect to labeling. you and your team would be
supportive of a federal presentation of all of those various state rules and regulations? >> yes, i think a national standard is really crucial. i think emily did a really good job of pointing out the complexity that's existing now and i think that as we think about if there have going to be regulation then federal preemption would be really critical to streamlining that process and reducing consumer confusion. and we thank mrs. pingree for all of her work on this really important issue and really starting the conversation. >> well, thank you. i do believe the statute of limitations has run out on anything i might have just confessed to with respect to my conduct at ft. hood. with that, i'll yield back and recognize the ranking member for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. do all of you agree that to get on our goal here we need a federal preemption of state laws? do any of you disagree with that? silence.
it's going to be hard for the stenographers to write that down. >> i'm happy to agree with that. i think as we've discussed -- when we started looking at state laws on date labels we looked at a handful in new england. they were all different. the more we zoomed out and looked across the country, it's very clear they're not based on some sort of standard safety information. so i think it makes sense to have one standard that everyone can follow. >> so you'd have to have a federal preemption in order to accomplish that. >> i think so. >> and i'm, you know, a little bit concerned about how this would work because we've got so many people involved in trying to use the labeling and marketing of food. they've got the consumers to the point where they don't know what the heck is going on. you know? it just concerns me, you know, like this gmo issue, you know, they're opposing preemption of
that because some people think that it's a good thing for the states to have these different laws. you know, which goes completely opposite of what we're talking about here. and then you've got these folks out there doing these dietary guidelines and trying to push all of that stuff, and we've got a bill that's been introduced that puts the food police in charge of the ag committee i guess. you know, that are pushing all kinds of ideology there, whatever it might be, confusing the heck out of people. you've got people labeling things "natural" and using it to create stores and so forth. and so i'm just concerned that if we pass this bill that says you're going to have two dates. one is best by and the other is
expires, you know, i agree that we need to get -- this is a good thing to do and this is -- if we could accomplish it, it would probably be the best solution or one of the main thing that's could change things. but in the bill, it says "expires on" is the date for not the quality by the i guess safety date. i think that's -- i don't think consumers would understand what that means. you know, i think you almost have to say "do not consume" after this date. to get them to understand. i'm just -- you know, we're putting so much stuff on this label, all of these labels, that i'm not sure it's going to break through, you know. so i don't know what you all think about that. do you think -- am i off base trying to be concerned about all of this -- >> sir, i have two answers.
one in terms of this question about the information being out there. if you go to any store right now, even in the states that don't regulate date labels like new york, almost every product, particularly in the center of the store, has a date label on it. everything from bottled water to vinegar to canned goods, whatever. so i think what's great about this, it's not taking information away. consumers are used to seeings those and they want to see them. it's just trying to make it clear so that they don't see a million different ones. i think you're right that no matter what the labels are education is going to be needed. the problem is right now that because there's so many different labels it's impossible to educate anyone about what they mean. i've tried. i'd love to say, this is what you should glean from these. then last the term "expires on" was actually in the national survey that we did last month that i mentioned. we checked six different label languages and "expires on" 54% of people believed that was a
safety label, that higher than any of the other ones and the lowest percentage of people who thought it was a quality indicator. again, 54% isn't a lot but it's a start and i think with education it could be built upon that. >> yeah. go ahead. >> just if i may really quickly, i think you really hit the nail on the head that we want to get this right the first time. we don't want to further contribute to consumer confusion so we want to make sure that we are testing consumers to make sure they understand what we're trying to convey, coordinate with other labeling changes that are coming down the line like the nutritions facts panel and really have industry flexibility to truncate the phrase, make sure it facilities on small packaging to make sure we're harmonizing our standards and language and conveying the right information to the consumer. >> i would say amen to that and if you've read this bill, i am concerned about -- i agree with the goal, but i'm concerned about the way this thing is structured, that you're going to get these different agencies involved in this and by the time you're done you're not going to recognize what you tried to
accomplish. you know, i've seen that with the farm bill when i passed the farm bill, by the time it got done with regulations i didn't recognize what we had passed. so i think we have to be careful about how we do this. i agree about what we're trying to accomplish. but if you get too many agencies involved and allow too much whatever, you're going to end up potentially with a worse situation. yield back. >> mr. kelly five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member and i thank you, members of the panel. first of all, i just want to say we have a lot of food pantries i'm from mississippi and we have a lot of rural areas. and our food pantries do such a great job and so any kind of reduction, second i rarely do this and she'll probably kill me but my wife volunteers for meals on wheels all the time to take meals to the elderly or people who can't travel and those things and she's -- you know, she never gets recognized.
we've been married for 25 years and it seems like she's always behind the scenes. by my wife sheila does a great job and we need more of that because there's a lot of people who really want to help people and get this food in the right hands. as a child growing up, my mother used to go to the stale bread store in town and would buy up the doughnuts and things that we necessarily couldn't afford or bread or other buns and those kind of things. then she would freeze them and we'd eat them all year. as kids we didn't know any different. it was still good food. the thing that's most people threw away we got to eat. so i thank y'all for doing this. ms. stasz, i think i got that right, to what extent is the industry engaged in coordinating efforts to promote uniform labeling? >> we're very engaged. this is a gma and fmi board level initiative right now. we have 25 companies who are working on this to make sure that we really get this right the first time, to make sure the information that we're conveying
to consumers is accurate and it's the right kind of information. but this is a really important issue for us and it's something that we're taking very seriously. >> and just -- you know, as a follow-up on that, when we create things here, we don't always get the right results because we don't have the baseline of knowledge that is necessary. we're not the professionals in every area and we have such a broad range of things. so when you guys create the right things for yourself, it prevents us from doing the wrong thing with good hearts and good minds and trying to do the right thing but we sure appreciate your input. how do your manufacturers in your organization now work with different date labeling laws in each state and what limitations does it put on you because of these laws? >> it's certainly own russ. i mean, our member companies are obviously complying with state law. but it does tend to create a lot of unintended consequences. i think ms. aviv really highlighted some of the
confusion around at the food bank level and there's different foods that wind up getting thrown away unnecessarily. there are certainly a call for and a reason for a national standard that the industry is working towards to reduce consumer confusion and prevent some of these unintended consequences of these laws. >> and ms. aviv, to what extent have potential food donors raised liability concerns to you about a reason to withhold donations? >> thank you. congressman, i think that the issue that we see is lack of knowledge where people new to the space who want to help and want to contribute argue that they can't because they won't be protected. and that it's almost a one by one by one education. unless we can create a systemic way to engage in this kind of work. i was most recently at a conference organized by ohio state university with all of its alumni and so on, and the alumni sitting there talking about food insecurity, people sitting at
the front table said that they were reluctant to get involved in this because they thought they were liabilities. these were people who were leaning into this area. so i don't think we should underestimate the degree to which people are not engaging because they think they're not protected. >> and final question for mr. oxford. so-called ugly fruit and vegetables in many cases have less value in the so-called marketplace. what other opportunities -- you talked about some, but if you can just talk about what opportunities the industry is exploring to add value to these products. >> well, you mentioned the ugly fruit. that's been a growing movement across the industry, one that we participated in and a lot of retailers are helping to do that and i mentioned the food service side is getting involved with it as well. one of the things you have to keep in mind on that is, you know, how things are positioned in the stores or at the food service level.
we believe there's great opportunity and it's a huge waste from our standpoint as a grower, we hope every fruit stem and leaf ends up on someone's plate. so just trying to do anything we can to make those products available is what we're trying to do. >> and just a final antidote, my dad growing up wouldn't eat white corn. he didn't like it. so my mother put food coloring in it and he said, this is the best corn i've ever had. so sometimes price pointing and other things make it better. "yield back, mr. chairman. >> mr. davis scott for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you know, this is a very serious problem here, and i appreciate you chairman pulling this together. but it seems to be two fundamental areas here that we need to address. the first one is, how do you change human behavior? that is the big issue here.
the second big one is, how do we address this issue of where the food waste starts on the farm? i represent georgia, and we are the leaders in the nation perhaps the world of growing blueberries. the problem is that so much of those blue wer berries are left, wasted, rotting in the fields because we have failed to address the number one issue that we here in congress can do to address food shortage, and that's to make sure our agriculture and our farmers, those who are producing our crops like blueberries, have the adequate supply of labor to be able to harvest them. so we've got to do something about that first.
second point is on that, how do we coordinate a better relationship with that if it's an oversupply our farmers would gladly add a much reduced cost rather than to see those crops rot in the field get them to our food banks, like the atlanta food bank which is one of the more premier food banks with over 75 million pounds of food put out each year. that takes good management resource allocation. now, the other one is on, how do you get to the real? because about 80% of the problem, if we solve it at the first end of helping stop the food shortage of food rotting in the farmers because they can't get the labor because we failed to address immigration from an economic, agricultural, supply, labor standpoint, when we get to
the changing of the human behavior, we've got to get into a coordinated partnership with the media. with television. with radio. to be able to change human behavior, educate the public. now, we did this with smoking so it can be done. we changed that human behavior. remember people said, you're not going to be able to get people to -- but there was a coordinated effort with the leaders in the media industry to help with the kinds of public announcements, commercials that we could. so i'd like to get y'all's response to that. first, let's address -- am i right on this labor issue, mr. oxford? >> without a doubt. that's one of the biggest challenges for us as growers, is not having adequate labor to harvest the crops at times. and when we leave crops in the
field, sure, we can dish them in for nutrients for the soil, but that really means the crop is not going to the highest and best use, which is feeding people. >> and how about your ability? am i right in assuming that you would be able to work with food banks in a much better resource allocation way to be able to get that food so it gets on to the needy people rather than rotting in the fields? >> absolutely. and we already do, as i mentioned in my testimony, supply hundreds of thousands of pounds to food banks annually ourselves, probably that doesn't meet specifications for the customers that we have and so forth. but i think distribution is a big part of the equation that has to be figured out and it's -- there's no silver bullets here. it has to be a collaborative effort from all parts of the supply chain. >> right.
now, the reason i mention the human behavior as i looked at this, clearly 45% of food is wasted at the dinner table. mr. chairman, i think it might be helpful if we begin to address a way in which we can coordinate some resources at the federal level to help get public service announcements to get and work with many of our partners in the media and engage them much the same way as we did in changing the human behavior of smoking. thank you, sir. i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. chris gibson, five minutes. >> thanks, mr. chairman. i appreciate this hearing. just want to come in behind mr. scott and concur with his statements, and i appreciate the chairman. i know he's been looking at this too. we have a number of members on the committee who have been concerned about ag labor, serious issues there. i have introduced a bill on
this. i certainly don't claim that it corners the market in any ideas here. in fact, i think perhaps at this time maybe what we should do as a committee is just to have a hearing and look into it more. i know the committee is looking at that, and i appreciate that. the second is, and i apologize i was a few minutes late, but i did learn from the testimony that i did hear from ms. leib, i was interested to hear your comment, really your analysis, of the emerson act which is, from what i hear of you, very helpful in its intent but perhaps needing some refinement, some amendments. and i thought you were very clear in what could be done. you know, i certainly would be supportive of an effort on that score. i just want to make that comment. and then third -- and this is really the question -- i'm curious for the panel, in your
experiences, have you seen any best practices as far as information is concerned, a not for profit that maybe is a clearinghouse in a community where, you know, all restaurants and farmers can provide information about what they have so there's sort of in a community a place where people can go and say, well, here's our inventory of all that's the perishables and perhaps the nonperishables about what's available. has anybody seen anything like that? >> yes. there are in addition to what feeding america is doing with their new platform, there are a few other local start-ups that are doing it. there is a small company based in boston that's doing it for new england right now that is creating a platform that has knowledge of tractor trailers that are being rejected at particular places and are not
going to find their intent and then matching those with locations that could use that. so large organizations like feeding america and there's a lot of innovation that's happening at a local level as well. >> i would say that there are lots of efforts by feeding america to try and get to the very issue that you've raised. obviously, part of the challenge that we face is to make sure that the food -- this whole food labeling issue is not an unimportant issue because we want to be sure that the food that gets picked up is then put if it's perishable in a refrigerator truck, is transported to a safe place, is housed in a safe place before it's distributed. so that even as we are very encouraged by efforts of small groups to do the same thing, we
want to be able to be sure that we have a safe, protected standard because if we have stories that come out of somebody getting food poisoning or something as a result of this, that might be perceived by the public as the tip of the iceberg when in fact it was an isolated incident. so we have to proceed here quite carefully. our effort with starbucks that we are now going to do over the next five years with hundreds and hundreds of stores will give us an opportunity to test this effort because it's a small amount of food from each store, but they are incentivizing us through providing us with enough financial support to be able to purchase refrigerator trucks so that the food banks can go by and pick that food up every single day. multiply that by every store in the cities, in the variety of cities that have food left over. we have to make sure that the infrastructure or the people who pick it up are picking it up and carrying it safely to the place
where it then can be distributed to people who need food. so it's a logistics in transportation and safety issue. it's not a lack of will issue. >> just to add to that, there's quite a bit of innovation on that front. there's an organization, a start-up in chicago, that's been training uber and lyft drivers in safe food handling practices and then allowing restaurants to broadcast via text to a number of food pantries until someone accepts it and then they bring it over very quickly so that it can, you know, get to people quickly. and i would say that there's a long tale to the food. there's big organizations and sometimes they have large quantities but there's also a lot of small restaurants and such that have small quantities but it's still worthwhile to donate. and i think, as mr. fink mentioned, really encouraging the innovation there can serve that sort of long tail.
>> i thank the panelists. my time is expired. thanks, mr. chairman. >> mr. walz, five minutes. >> thank you, very critically important topic. thank you to my colleague ms. pingree who i've had an honor of sharing a meal at her home. she takes this to heart and takes food as an important part of our cultural life. which kind of takes me back to mr. scott and mr. kelly saying. this issue of by training a cultural geographer, this is an attitude issue as much as it is logistics. as far as labeling and that, it's interesting when you hear people up here talk , those of us of a certain generation
there's the pride in the thriftiness around food. i come from a family until i was 12 years old i thought head cheese was cheese my mom was making. when we found out, we still ate it, but it was the idea of that sense of waste that was probably generation where food insecurity was a real threat to them. you see this around the world. and so i do think getting at that because there's some really interesting phenomenas here. we take great pride in southern minnesota that we feed and cloth and fuel the world. and we have the most efficient producers of food the world has ever seen. so because of that and then working in conjunction with all of you and ms. stasz your oh, you have become so incredibly efficient at delivering foods from all over the world to our local grocery store and to our homes that it has changed that cultural perception. not that we've gotten lazy or whatever. we don't have to be -- about it. i'm amazed looking at it this week when i go to shop for bananas it's a fine art because i don't want them green because i want to eat them that night. but when i buy them yellow they're bad the next day almost. it's really that supply chain
along there that we're trying to get at. so i'm curious. >> i think mr. scott was talking about putting things out in the public, public awareness and all that. but i think ms. gunders you did this right and if anything i've learned from this job as a school teacher, too, maslow's hierarchy, appeal to the bottom of the hierarchy first, how it impacts their safety, pocketbook and things like that then they'll eventually self actualize this is the right thing to do, it saves the planet saves those types of things are we he getting at the heart of the things that is making a difference is the food labeling one of them and maybe throw it out to each of you for your points on this. mr. fink you talked about the data which i think is incredible what you've been able to do to gather data on this. but i think it's very hard. maybe the last one to you, ms. aviv, how did usa food inspectors interact with food banks and some of these on large exiles.
i've got fantastic ones in minnesota that do incredible field to plate type of things. you know that's broad and general, but the rest of the country is maybe catching up where all of you are at. and there's win win wins in this if we get this right. this is one of those issue that's is incredible positive, economically, health wise, reducing government spending on things we'd like to see done. i'll leave my last two minutes for points on. that i know it's very generalized but we've got to get at this. >> yeah. so as i mentioned nrdc has partnered with the ad council on a campaign to try to shift the cultural paradigm around food waste. it's absolutely correct that if i walk down the sidewalk right now and i throw half a sandwich on the sidewalk people will think i'm crazy because i'm littering but if i throw it in the garbage can people won't quite think much of it. and that's really the paradigm that we are trying to shift there was over 12 months of research that went into the campaign and found things like people don't know they're wasting food. if you ask somebody if it's okay, nobody will say yes. but nobody realizes they themselves are doing it. it's kind of flying under the radar. and the other thing is that it's
a by-product of sort of people's good intentions much you want to host a good dinner party, you want to feed your kids healthy food. and there's this by product of waste. we're trying to create a wake-up call that yes, this is happening and also create a positive message that this is something that people can get on board to do better and trying to shift that culture. and so i think we're trying to get at some of the motivations behind it through really positive messaging and empowering people to make changes in their kitchens because a lot of it is happening right there. >> i think your question had to do a little bit about the data and what do we do with it. the intent of refed was actually to comb the data that was out there and to create this advisory council of the 30 experts from all the different industries and nonprofits to understand the data and to create a road map which essentially is an action plan of
what are all of the areas where food is being waisted and what are the solutions and how can investment be made in one case to accomplish that. and that's where we came up with the 27 solutions and there are investment opportunities for private investors, for philanthropic organizations like foundations that can make grants to feeding america and other nonprofits. and for corporations to make investments in their own infrastructure. so the first step was collecting the data and creating the road map. now it's an opportunity for individual organizations to figure out how they can invest in the solutions. >> thank you. maybe if we get a second round i'll wait. my time is up to come back around. i want to explore that, the economic potential that comes from this and how you're already doing that. >> mr. moolenaar, five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you all for being here. just this number, 40%, is pretty
staggering. and i wonder if -- i think most people wouldn't be aware of that, and if there was one take-away that you wanted me to be able to communicate back in my district from each of -- as you've been thinking about this today and throughout your work, what would that one take-away be that you'd want me to be able to communicate? because i think that number is pretty staggering. then when you look at the supply chain aspect of it, it becomes a much more complicated issue in terms of how to resolve. but is there one thing that you would want me to be able to communicate in my district? and maybe just go right down the panel. >> i think it's that this is very addressable, and it just takes easy steps to do it. it can be overwhelming when you think too much about it, but ultimately if everyone care about this and we all think food
shouldn't be wasted it won't be as much. >> i would say that most people are not aware of how much food they waste personally, and that this problem can be solved starting so much by the consumer and then the consumer can push that to restaurants and to retailers. >> what i would say is that i think there's a misperception with a lot of consumers that if the fruit or the vegetable doesn't look just absolutely perfect in the store when they're picking it out then it can't be good, and that's simply not true. so support for and encouragement of some of the imperfect or the unusual looking fruits and vegetables, that those are still very healthful products for consumers would be terrific. >> and i'd say the number one take-away is the importance of measurement, whether you're a
business, whether you're a household, a city, a state, understanding that getting some numbers behind how much food you're wasting, you immediate find opportunities to improve. i for one need to stop buying grapefruits. i just don't eat them. but i can understand how much money i save as soon as i track that every week. and i think that measurement is far and away the best practice. >> i think there are no silver bullets here because we can't solve all of it doesn't mean that we shouldn't try and solve some of it. one step at a time will get us all the way there. one of the great successes in regard to this area that we think is helpful was the passage of the tax legislation that made the donation of food by small businesses possible, incentivizing them to give. so instead of that food going to waste, now because of this charitable tax deduction, they can donate that. if we can educate our farmers and our small businesspeople in the communities about this
opportunity, we can save a heck of a lot, and that will be the first step of many that we can take. >> and i'd say sort of two. one on date labels that for the most part, foods are indicating quality to you and hopefully you can say you're working on trying to make them clear. and then i think the other on the liability, i mentioned the emerson act is incredible. i mean, it's an enormous amount of protection and the biggest challenge is that businesses don't know about that and having representatives from congress say to them, we have this legislation you're really protected, this is a priority for us could go miles in getting more people to feel comfortable donating food. >> thank you very much. appreciate it. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> ms. fudge, five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and thank you all so much for being here. mr. chairman, let me just take a point of personal privilege. today is congressional foster youth shadow day. and today i have a foster student with me.
her name is ragene jordan wells who was in the system for five years and is now a student at cleveland state university. so let's welcome her. >> can she stand up and wave at us? >> ragene? >> oh, there she is. welcome. glad you're with us. >> thank you. and now to my questions. first, let me again thank you all. this has been most enlightening and very timely, mr. chairman. thank you for this hearing. certainly i do represent the city of cleveland and akron and 20 cities in between. i represent one of the poorest districts in america so this is extremely important to me. as i work closely with my food banks on a fairly regular basis and have my staff go on a regular basis to assist and volunteer. so it is good, ms. aviv, to have you here as i wanted to just remind you that earlier this year mr. rodney davis, my colleague from illinois, and i did in fact request that the
appropriations committee provide an additional -- a $100 million for the cost of storing, transporting and distributing food. we know that refrigerated storage, we know that moving food is very, very important to making this whole thing work because a lot of times if it's difficult for them to donate the food, they won't do it. so i just want you to be aware that they did it and thank you for your assistance. feeding america's assistance in helping us do that. and i'm happy that my colleagues have heard today how important it is to make sure that we have the transportation and the refrigeration that we need. ms. leib, we've been talking about the emerson act for some time this morning. but unlike other statutes, there is no -- there has never been a federal agency that really is over this particular act. would it help if in fact there was some kind of guidance by a federal agency that would make
persons who come under this act feel better? >> i think so. i mean, i think, you know, one issue is really that there's a lack of awareness which can also be addressed by having an agency that's really tasked with putting guidance out, telling people about it, sharing information. then the other question, there's -- i mean, it's intended to be incredibly strong if you read it you can get that but i think as attorneys as an attorney myself i can imagine if i were advocating on behalf of a company looking at it and saying there are few terms in here there are unclear apparently wholesome food what does wholesome food is something past date wholesome or not.