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CALIFORNIA FLOWER INDUSTRY GIVES NAFTA TESTIMONY

 SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. House Subcommittee on Trade held hearings Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C., in which David Pruitt, chairman of the California Cut Flower Commission, and owner of Sea Coast Greenhouses, Leucadia, Calif., presented written and oral testimony on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
 In his testimony, Pruitt called for NAFTA implementation rules to reflect the goal of establishing a more level playing field for the U.S. fresh cut flower growing industry. Specific issues of concern to domestic growers include differences in U.S./Mexico wage rates, pesticide use, worker safety and grower royalty payments for use of patented flowers. Pruitt urged attention to all of these areas as part of any "level playing field" under NAFTA. He asked that U.S. officials "eliminate the artificial cost advantages from different wage rates, pesticide use and patent enforcement that accrue to Mexican flower growers and to the detriment of the U.S. grower." Congressman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., on the Subcommittee on Trade attended the hearing, presented questions to Pruitt and was receptive to his testimony.
 Earlier in the month, the Subcommittee on Trade requested views on the likely impact of NAFTA, and its supplemental agreements, on the U.S. economy. The subcommittee also requested views on "particular agricultural, industrial, and service sectors, and on labor and environmental interests." California Cut Flower Commission testimony was provided in response to the subcommittee request. Additional NAFTA hearings may be scheduled in California by the House Committee on Agriculture in late October.
 California's 560 commercial flower growers produce nearly 60 percent of all domestically grown flowers. It is a $350,000,000 industry, employing more than 17,000 people statewide. During the last 10 years, the domestic flower growing industry nationwide has been dramatically impacted by the increased number of imported flowers brought into the U.S. from countries such as Colombia and Ecuador. Over 80 percent of all carnations, and 50 percent of all roses and standard mums sold here are now grown in South America, resulting in a significant drop in price at the wholesale level for these flowers.
 -0- 9/28/93
 /CONTACT: Kathryn Miele or Dan Hall of the California Cut Flower Commission, 916-852-5166/


CO: California Cut Flower Commission ST: California IN: REA SU: EXE

PK-LH -- SF006 -- 6598 09/28/93 20:01 EDT
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Date:Sep 28, 1993
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