By Doug Ohlemeier, special from The Packer


(Oct. 14, 12:00 p.m.) Efforts to compensate U.S. tomato growers that
suffered financial losses during the Food and Drug Administration’s
Salmonella Saintpaul investigation have stalled in Washington, D.C.

Reggie
Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange,
Maitland, said a bill to help grower-shippers remains stalled in the
U.S. Senate after Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., blocked the effort
because of apparent political concerns over an unrelated issue.

That
issue is a dispute between a group of senators and the Florida tomato
industry over the Coalition of Immokalee Workers farmworker group to
have fast-food giants pay tomato workers an extra penny per pound.

“It’s
hung in the Senate on the threat of Sen. Sanders putting a hold on it,”
Brown said. “It’s unfortunate he still holds the view he does that our
tomato industry is not a fair and equitable employer, but we in fact
are. The bulk of the compensation would go to the people that don’t
have anything to do with the issue Sen. Sanders is concerned about.”

Brown,
who was in Washington, D.C., Oct. 13 attending an FDA hearing, said he
was on the phone with the industry’s lobbyist and planned to make the
rounds to see what opportunities the industry could gain.

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