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Senator Santorum Applauds USDA Decision Regarding UglyRipe™ Tomatoes

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Location: Washington, DC


Senator Santorum Applauds USDA Decision Regarding UglyRipe™ Tomatoes

June 28, 2006

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today issued a statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) decision to proceed with rulemaking to free the UglyRipe tomato from the shape requirements of the Florida Tomato Committee marketing order. The UglyRipe is grown by a Philadelphia-based company, Prococci Brothers Sales Corporation, which employs 700 Pennsylvanians.

"I commend the Secretary of Agriculture for demonstrating leadership by publishing this rule. If agriculture in the United States is to be sustainable and competitive, it must remain innovative. Clearly the Florida Tomato Committee tried to prevent such innovation and tried to prevent consumers from obtaining a desired product. The rulemaking process gives consumers and other interested parties a voice. I encourage all of those who are interested in this issue to take advantage of this opportunity by sending comments to the USDA," said Senator Santorum.

The UglyRipe™ is an heirloom tomato, named for its wrinkled odd shape, but rich taste. When the Florida Tomato Committee (FTC) blocked interstate shipment of the UglyRipe tomato, Senator Santorum worked aggressively to intervene. In a January 2005 meeting with Secretary Johanns, Senator Santorum suggested that USDA could remedy the UglyRipe tomato problem by accepting it into the USDA's existing Identity Preservation program. Senator Santorum also pursued this solution in his legislation, S. 531, the Agricultural Marketing Success Act of 2005. In January 2006 the UglyRipe tomato was accepted into the Identity Preservation program. Participation in the Identity Preservation program enables the USDA to ensure that UglyRipe tomatoes are being sold as opposed to substandard tomatoes, which was the FTC's primary concern. The proposed rule would allow interstate shipment of the UglyRipe.

The proposed rule can be found in the Federal Register Publication under the Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Marketing Service - Tomatoes Grown in Florida; Partial Exemption to the Minimum Grade Requirements. Comments can be sent to the USDA over the next 60 days. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, Marketing Order Administration Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; E-mail: moab.docketclerk@usda.gov; or Internet: http//www.regulations.gov.

http://santorum.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressOffice.View&ContentRecord_id=1904&Region_id=0&Issue_id=0

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