SACRAMENTO — The California table olive industry commends the US Government’s January 12, 2023, decision to implement the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Spanish olives in a way that upholds US law and safeguards a fair US marketplace, while also complying with WTO rules.
“The US Government has confirmed again and again over the last five years that the Spanish olive industry is still benefiting from extraordinary European Union (EU) subsidies and is still dumping its ripe olives in the US market,” said Michael Silveira, Chairman of the Olive Growers Council of California. “If it weren’t for the US Government’s ongoing antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders on Spanish olives, American table olive production and hundreds of family farmers and allied American jobs would be in serious jeopardy,” he said.
For years, the EU has tried to shield its farm subsidy payments from external scrutiny despite a subsidy allocation system that grants unfair, disproportionately large financial benefits to Spain’s olive industry. In 2018, after the US issued its olive AD and CVD orders, the EU tried to block further review and overturn those orders by challenging them in the WTO. In November 2021, the WTO issued its ruling, the legal findings of which laid a path for the US Government to continue applying AD and CVD tariffs on Spanish olives. The WTO took no issue with the US Government’s AD and injury findings and found that EU grower subsidy payments were subject to US CVD disciplines. While it questioned certain aspects of the US Government’s CVD determinations, and declared an important US trade law known as “Section 771B” to be WTO-inconsistent, the United States’ new decision implementing the WTO ruling fully addresses and resolves all WTO concerns. Its decision makes clear, for example, that while only Congress can change US law, Section 771B authorizes administrative discretion sufficient to overcome the panel’s concerns about WTO-inconsistency.
Silveira said, “The EU wants the Biden Administration to ignore the law and allow the Spanish industry to go back to selling at dumped and subsidized prices with no consequences.” He added, “That would only reinforce the EU’s protectionist farm policies and, by eroding trade enforcement, would undermine American-grown production and US food security.”
The US Government’s AD and CVD orders on Spanish olives have given California olive farmers the time they need to reinvest in modern farming techniques, including a “One Million Tree initiative,” to help transition the industry to modern, drought-friendly acreage. Dennis Burreson, a California olive grower and Vice President of Field Operations and Industry Affairs for Musco Family Olive Co., praised the Administration and industry’s Congressional delegation for defending the California olive industry, saying “The olive case, together with our industry-led investments, is a great example of how to break the cycle of unfair foreign trade practices and rebuild high-quality, environmentally-friendly American production and American jobs.”
Founded in 1978, the Olive Growers Council of California (OGCC) is a voluntary organization dedicated to serving as a voice for California table olive growers during the industry’s annual price bargaining process with California table olive processors. The OGCC remains committed to serving California’s nearly 600 table olive growers, and ensuring the future longevity of the industry.
–Olive Growers Council of California