Written by Jen Finn
Maine Coast Fisherman, May 1954
Will Divert 4 Million Dollars Import Revenue For Research
WASHINGTON-The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously recommended Senate approval of the Saltonstall Bill recently. The bill will earmark 30 percent of gross receipts from import duties on fishery products for research development and distribution of domestic production.
The bill by Sens. Saltonstall (R. Mass.) and Kennedy (D. Mass.) for themselves and 26 other sponsoring senators, was amended slightly by the Committee in an effort to eliminate some Agriculture Department opposition. The changes did not alter the purpose of the measure.
At present, fishery import duties are lumped with farm tariff revenues and administered by the Agriculture Department. The fishing industry has been get.ting only about $175,000 out of an annual $300,000,000 fund, most of which has been reserved for research on farm products.
Senators Smith and Payne of Maine offered a statement declaring the industry faces a "serious, even bleak future" because of conditions which its own limited financial resources are unable to combat successfully."
Maine sardine packers voted unanimously to endorse the legislation, according to industry Secretary Richard E. Reed, who attended the hearing early in April. He says that about 13 percent of the 11 million dollar annual duty revenue on foreign fish products comes from sardine imports.
Passage of the bill would make possible a long term, continuous research project on herring resources, needed because of a growing scarcity of the fish, Reed said.
The Agriculture Department's official views on the Saltonstall Bill, under signature of True D. Morse, Undersecretary, was a definite nay. There is a possibility that disapproval may have later changed to approval, or at least to a modified position, as was intimated by Senator Duff at the Senate hearing.
Said the Morse statement in part: The department does not believe that a mandatory assignment of Section 32. funds should be made each year for use in connection with fishery products without any determination as to the need of such products for marketing assistance . . . . with regard to the increase in funds for educational, developmental, and research programs on fishery products, the department or agriculture - through the agricultural research service - conducts research in nutrition and in the utilization of agricultural products, including fish, as food, and also maintains educational service to homes and institutions regarding all food products. The department, through its plentiful foods program. works with the food trade to promote the distribution and consumption of those foods, including fish, which are in surplus supply. It would not seem advisable to expand such services in another department not primarily concerned with the marketing and utilization of food products."
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