On Thursday, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced two bills designed to address the Government of India’s rampant subsidization of food products, including rice, pulse crops, wheat, peanuts, and shrimp. Senator Cassidy’s legislation recognizes that, with this massive government support, India has flooded global markets and decimated food producers in the United States.
In one of the two bills, Prioritizing Offensive Agricultural Disputes and Enforcement Act (or the Ag Disputes Act), Senator Cassidy proposes the creation of a joint task force on agriculture trade enforcement that would recommend meaningful responses to the Indian Government’s subsidy programs. Through these substantial market distortions, India has developed a forty percent share of the global market for rice, has become the world’s largest producer of pulse crops, and is now the world’s second largest producer of wheat, peanuts, and cotton.
In the other bill, the India Shrimp Tariff Act, Senator Cassidy explains that the Government of India imposes a customs duty of thirty percent on shrimp imports with an additional ten percent social welfare surcharge on imports. At the same time, the United States imposes no basic duties on imports of shrimp into this country.
Under current circumstances, imports of heavily-subsidized Indian farm-raised shrimp account for forty percent of the volume of all shrimp imports into the United States. This shrimp is produced under weak environmental and worker protection, meaning that Indian shrimp aquaculture is characterized by decimated mangrove forests, rampant use of banned antibiotics and fungicides, and child labor. At the same time, Indian shrimp is processed under contract labor arrangements that encourage and facilitate forced labor.
While the European Union requires that half of all Indian aquaculture shipments be tested for veterinary drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declined to apply additional scrutiny to Indian farmed shrimp imports and inspects less than 0.1 percent of shrimp shipments for the presence of banned antimicrobials. Global environmental concerns regarding the impact of deforestation have not extended to mangrove forests and these ecosystems have been sacrificed to further expand shrimp aquaculture in India. And while U.S. shrimp importers and purchasers have condemned the use of peeling sheds in Thailand, this same production model has proliferated throughout the Indian shrimp industry.
Because of this, India dominates the U.S. shrimp market while the U.S. shrimp industry accounts for less than ten percent of the shrimp consumed in this country. To address these inequities, the India Shrimp Tariff Act would impose a general rate of duty on Indian shrimp of ten percent beginning in 2024. One year later, in 2025, the duty rate would be increased to twenty percent. From 2026 forward, the duty rate on Indian shrimp would be forty percent – equivalent to India’s rate of duty on shrimp imports into that country.
Moreover, beyond directly addressing the Indian shrimp industry’s devastating impact on commercial shrimpers throughout the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, the India Shrimp Tariff Act would eliminate the exemption of cooked shrimp from the requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements. Section 5 of the bill eliminates the exclusion of cooked crawfish and cooked shrimp products from COOL disclosure requirements and would provide consumers with the ability to choose U.S. wild-caught cooked shrimp at grocery stores throughout the country.
“Senator Cassidy continues to demonstrate through his actions an unwavering commitment to the survival of the U.S. shrimp industry,” said John Williams, Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “Shrimpers cannot work because Indian shrimp unfair trade practices have gone unaddressed for over ten years. Now, more than ever, fishermen and their families need the support of their Congressional representatives and the Southern Shrimp Alliance asks every U.S. Senator in the Gulf and South Atlantic to support this legislation.”
Read the press release of Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) regarding the introduction of the Prioritizing Offensive Agricultural Disputes and Enforcement Act and the India Shrimp Tariff Act here: https://www.cassidy.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cassidy-colleagues-introduce-bills-to-protect-louisiana-agriculture-against-dumping-from-china-india
Review the India Shrimp Tariff Act, here: https://www.cassidy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/shrimp_tariff_bill.pdf