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Dates are also classified according to the principal type of sugar contained in the fruit when harvested. As dates ripen on the tree, the sugar content, originally sucrose, gradually inverts into fructose and glucose. Dates that are harvested before half of their sugar content has been inverted from sucrose to fructose and glucose are called cane-sugar dates by the trade; dates that are harvested after more than half of their sugar content has been inverted are called invertsugar dates. In moderate climates, so-called invert-sugar dates can be held in ordinary storage for long periods without noticeable deterioration. Cane-sugar dates, which tend to dry out regardless of the type of storage, are highly susceptible to spoilage when held in ordinary storage. Most dry varieties of dates are harvested as cane-sugar dates, and most soft varieties are harvested as invert-sugar dates. Semidry varieties are harvested either as cane-sugar dates or as invert-sugai dates, depending upon the variety and area of production.
Almost all of the California dates subject to the programs of the Department of Agriculture are Deglet Noor, a semidry variety that is usually harvested semiripe as a cane-sugar date; imported dates consumed in the United States consist almost entirely of two semidry invert-sugar varieties, Hallowi and Sayer.
Because of their invert-sugar content, imported dates can be held in ordinary storage for long periods without noticeable deterioration; Delglet Noor dates, which tend to dry out regardless of the type of storage, are highly susceptible to spoilage when held in ordinary storage.
Their invert-sugar content also makes imported dates sticky, and, for that reason, their major household use is for making puddings, cookies, cakes, or confections such as stuffed dates; the bulk of California dates, which are considerably less sticky, are eaten out of hand without further preparation.
In the food trade, domestic dates are considered fresh fruit; imported dates are referred to as dried fruit. In chainstores, domestic dates are purchased by the produce departments, while imported dates are purchased by the grocery departments.
Because of their excellent keeping qualities, imported dates are preferred by many retail store operators—they know they will not spoil or harden. Dromedary dates, for example, are guaranteed to the trade to have a shelf life of 2 years, and are available in most retail outlets all during the year. Domestic dates, on the other hand, must be stored under refrigeration to avoid spoilage, have a shelflife of only 30 to 60 days, and are available only on a seasonal basis in most stores.
In recent years between two-thirds and three-fourths of United States imports of dates have been distributed through retail outlets in the form of whole dates with pits removed; the remainder have been used by industrial consumers, such as commercial bakers and candy manufacturers.
The Hills Bros. Co. began selling imported dates to bakers for use in their products approximately 50 years ago. Most industrial uses of dates have been filled since their development by imported dates.
While some domestic dates have been used since the early 1940's for baking and candy making both in homes and commercial establishments, most industrial users prefer imported dates because they retain both their flavor and identity during the baking process. Domestic dates tend to disintegrate during baking, lose their flavor, and are not visible in the finished product.
Domestic dates are large, smooth, and uniform in color, size, and shape. They are pitted by machine and have a very attractive appearance. Imported dates vary greatly in color, size, and shape, and are considerably smaller than domestic dates. They are pitted by hand in their country of origin, and, compared to domestic dates, appear mashed and deformed.
Because imported and domestic dates differ in so many important respects—appearance, physical properties, sugar composition, moisture content, keeping qualities, size-they are comparable only to a vary limited degree.
The United States standards for grades of dates, which are incorporated in marketing order No. 103 for domestic dates, were designed to serve as a convenient basis for sales, for establishing qualitycontrol programs, for determining loan values, and the inspection by the Federal Inspection Service of domestic dates. Imported dates, with their many different characteristics, were not considered at the time the United States standards were promulgated, and the United States standards were not intended to be applicable to imported dates.
So unalike are domestic and imported dates that if the importation of dates were limited, by the addition of dates to those commodities enumerated in section 8 (e) of the Agricultural Adjustment Act (of 1933), as amended, to those dates that would meet the United States standards for grades of dates, there could be no dates imported. Imported dates will not meet United States standards for dates, which were promulgated for domestic dates, because imported dates and domestic dates are just not alike.
The Congress, in the enactment of section 8 (e) in its present form, wisely anticipated that the application of domestic marketing order restrictions to an imported commodity might not be practicable because of variations in characteristics between the domestic and imported commodity. Section 8 (e) provides that when the Secretary of Agriculture so finds, he shall establish with respect to the imported commodity such grade, size, quality, and maturity restrictions as he finds will be equivalent or comparable to those imposed upon the domestic commodity under such order.
Since the application of the restrictions of the domestic date marketing order would make the importation of dates impossible, I have little doubt that the Secretary of Agriculture could only find that such application was impracticable.
What then would be the effect of the addition of dates to the commodities listed in section 8 (e)? The answer is simple. It would constitute a direction to the Secretary to establish grade, size, quality, and maturity restrictions for imported dates.
What need is there for such restrictions? Would they benefit the consuming public or the industrial user? Would they eleminate the differences between domestic and imported dates? Would they decrease the present preference of the consumer, the industrial user, or the storekeeper for imported dates! Obviously, there is no need for such restrictions. They would not benefit the consuming public or the industrial user. They would not eliminate the differences between domestic and imported dates.
They would not decrease the present preference of the consumer, storekeeper, or industrial user for imported dates.
What purpose, then, would such restrictions serve? I submit they serve no valid purpose. I further submit that the sole purpose of the proponents of such restrictions is to restrict the importation of dates.
They have sought to restrict the importation of dates under section 22 of the Agriculture Adjustment Act, as amended, and twice, within the period of 1 year, the United States Tariff Commission has found that dates are not being imported under conditions and in such quantities as to render ineffective or materially interfere with the Federal date marketing order program or the Department of Agriculture's diversion of dates to new uses.
Having been denied import restrictions under the direct procedure that the Congress has provided for their imposition when warranted, they hope to obtain them through the enactment of one of the bills now being considered by this subcommittee that would add dates to section 8 (e). They seek to limit the importation of dates, not because imported dates are inferior, but because they are superior to domestic dates for the uses for which they are imported. They seek to obtain preferential tariff treatment, not by way of direct legislation that would be recognizable as such, but through an amendment to an obscure section of the Agricultural Adjustment Act.
On behalf of the National Biscuit Co., I respectfully urge the Subcommittee on Domestic Marketing not to report favorably on any bill that would add dates with pits, dates with pits removed, and products made entirely of dates to the commodities enumerated in section 8 (e).
I have finished my prepared statement, Mr. Chairman. I think that a couple of other facts might be of interest to this committee.
When we are talking about a date industry in this country we are talking about really two industries; the package date industry and the industrial or commercial date industry.
As far as the package date industry goes the domestic industry approximately 30 percent of the total package market. The Dromedary division of the National Biscuit Co. enjoys a share of the market of approximately 45 percent and the other importers enjoy a share of the market of approximately 25 percent.
How is it logical, how does it make sense, to impose standards for 30 percent of the total domestic package market, where the other 70 percent, when that 70 percent has been in existence for over 50 years!
I might also add in terms of the domestic packing industry, the National Biscuit Co. at Woodbury, Ga., and Alliance, N. Y., maintain the two largest date-packing houses in this country.
Mr. Hagen. We want to thank you, Mr. Halliday, for a very fine statement. The only question I have to ask you does not go directly to dates.
Are you familiar with the National Biscuit Co.'s purchases of figs?
Mr. Halliday. Sir, as assistant general counsel I have a compulsory education on that subject since 1952.
Mr. Hagen. As I understand it, you have very high standards; someone told me that.
Mr. HALLIDAY. That is true, our standards for our ingredients are as high as any industry in this country.
Mr. Hagen. Do you get substantial rejects on your part of imported figs?
Mr. HALLIDAY. No, sir, we do not. Our experience has been sạch that, if you want to go back over a long period of time, we sent sanitary missionaries, if you will, to Turkey, to improve the quality of their product and we sent sanitary missionaries, if you will, to California, to improve the quality of their product.
When we buy fig paste, when we import fig paste, our contract provides that it must meet not only the food and drug requirements but our own requirements and the same with California fig paste, and we require that even though it may be certified in California that it meet our requirements.
In fact, we have rejected paste on some occasions from both sources. I am very happy to say those rejections have been very infrequent and of very small quantities.
Mr. Hagen. If I understand what you say, you contract directly abroad.
Mr. HALLIDAY. No, sir; we buy directly from suppliers.
Mr. HALLIDAY. They know our standards. I did not come down to talk about figs or I would have brought down the standards.
Mr. HAGEN. One other question. As I understand it, insofar as the domestic producers are concerned, the volume of unfair competition in recent years has not been in Turkish exports but rather the Portuguese, and those Portuguese activities have served not only to depress the price for domestic producers but also for the Turks.
Mr. HALLIDAY. I do not believe that the price of Portuguese fig paste has had any effect on the price of Turkish fig paste, nor do I believe has had any effect on the better grades of California fig paste, such as the Calimyrna variety.
Mr. Hagen. Do you make purchases which originate in Portugal?
Mr. HALLIDAY. We have purchased in the last 2 years small quantities of Portuguese fig paste. Our experience has varied. We want to see developed a standard similar to that which we have for Turkish paste.
We found that some was not of sufficient quality, from the standpoint not of health or sanitation, but from the standpoint of color, the evenness of color, uniformity of grind, and so on. We do not believe that the Portuguese fig paste has as good a flavor as the Turkish or Calimyrna paste, we do find it superior in flavor and color to some of the other brands in California and as long as we can get an adequate supply of Turkish fig paste the National Biscuit Co. would not use Portuguese fig paste, I think it will use it, however, in preference to some of the other fig pastes of California.
Mr. Sisk. What percentage of your total purchases of fig paste are imported ? Mr. HALLIDAY. They vary from year to year, sir. Mr. Sisk. What was it last year?
Mr. HALLIDAY. Well, I cannot tell you last year, but I can tell you over a period of years that our purchases of fig paste from California have averaged between 312 to 4 million pounds. The entire production of Calimyrna fig paste that is produced in California is far from satisfying the needs of our company.
I think that our purchases of Turkish fig paste are probably higher in recent years than California.
Mr. Sisk. The point I am trying to determine is the percentage. I realize that we do not have sufficient fig industry to supply the domestic consumption and therefore it is required that some be imported. I am trying to find out what percentage of your normal purchases are imports as against domestic.
Mr. HALLIDAY. I think our purchases of imports exceeded domestic purchases. I am reluctant to give you a specific figure because as a large-scale purchaser of large quantities of that product, we would not like to make those figures public.
Mr. SISK. What was that you said?
Mr. HALLIDAY. Well, I say as a purchaser of large quantities of fig paste or any other commodity which is supplied by so few sources, we do not like to make public our consumption.
Mr. Sisk. Well, I think that we have a perfect right to know what your import purchases amount to. Do you mean to say that it is classified information for your company?
Mr. HALLIDAY. Yes, sir; I believe it is. We will submit it in confidence to this committee but I would not want to make a public statement even if I had one here, which I do not.
Mr. Sisk. I believe we certainly have the right to those figures of either fig paste or whatever.
Mr. HALLIDAY. Well, Congress certainly has the power to compel us to give any information that they wish.
Mr. Hagen. I am not in accord with my colleague on that question.
Mr. HALLIDAY. I think that is information of a confidential nature that pertains to the purchases of one company, not an industry, that is trade information.
Mr. Hagen. Let me ask you this. Will you accept the statement that there are commercial users of fig paste who do not have the same quality standards you use in your products?
Mr. HALLIDAY. Yes; I believe that is true.
Mr. Hagen. And I assume that except for the fact that you have the protection of a trade name, that you might be damaged by the production of these inferior cookies, we will say.
Mr. HALLIDAY. Well, I think any food manufacturer of a quality product that is in competition with inferior products from the sanitation or other standpoint is.
We have supported through the years the activities of the Food and Drug Administration. We have urged additional appropriations for that Administration.
As a lawyer I do not believe there is any Government regulatory body that is dedicated to public service as the Food and Drug Administration.
Mr. Hagen. Well, we will stipulate to that. But the activity of the Food and Drug Administration depends upon the appropriations by Congress and I would assume that in many areas they have been understaffed. You would support that assumption?
Mr. HALLIDAY. I think that is true, I think it is some better in the last year or so, but I think in years prior it was very true.
Mr. Hagen. Thank you, Mr. Halliday.
Now, Mr. Grady is here. We can hear from you, Mr. Grady, before we have to report on that quorum call and if you can reach an agree