CONGRESS MUST ACT TO HELP SHRIMPERS -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 19, 2008)
HON. RON PAUL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 2008
* Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, the American shrimp industry is a textbook example of a great American business crippled by foolish government policies. Congress and the federal bureaucracy have burdened shirmpers with needless regulations and laws that dramatically raise shrimpers' cost of doing business while subsidizing American shrimpers' overseas competitors. Unless Congress soon reverses course and repeals these destructive government policies, many shrimpers will be forced out of business.
* Congress's refusal to take any constructive action to address skyrocketing fuel costs has, in particular, hurt shrimpers. Some shrimpers are so desperate to lower their fuel costs that they are going to Mexico in search of affordable fuel. Think about this, Madam Speaker it is cheaper for shrimpers to travel to Mexico to buy gas than to obtain gas in the USA. Yet, Congress still refuses to take reasonable actions, such as expanding offshore drilling or repealing federal laws that delay the production of refineries, to expand oil supply and thus reduce the price of fuel.
* The federal government has also imposed numerous regulations on shrimpers dealing with use of items such as bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluder devices (TEDS). Madam Speaker, it is common to speak of the negative effects of regulations as ``unintended consequences.'' However, it is difficult to speak of the effects of the TEDS on shrimpers as unintended consequences when the National Marine Fisheries Service heard industry representatives and representatives of communities whose economies rely on a thriving shrimping industry present first-hand testimony on how these TEDS regulations would harm shrimpers.
* The problems shrimpers face are compounded by foreign competitors who are taking advantage of the government-created vulnerabilities in the American shrimp industry. Adding insult to injury, the federal government is forcing American shrimpers to subsidize their competitors through international agencies such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, and the International Monetary Fund! In fact, United States taxpayers have provided over $16,500,000,000 to the home countries of the leading foreign competitors of American shrimpers since 1999.
* In order to stop the federal government from punishing shrimpers with unfair regulations and forcing them to subsidize their major competitors, I introduced the Shrimp Importation Financing Fairness Act. This legislation would place a moratorium on any restrictive regulations negatively impacting the shrimp industry and prevent any taxpayer money from going to any country that exported more than 20 million pounds of shrimp to the Untied States in the previous six months. However, Congress chose not to even take these simple steps to help the American shrimp industry.
* Of course, American shrimpers, like all American businesses that compete in the global marketplace, also suffers from the weak U.S. dollar. Congress's fiscal irresponsibility is a major cause of the weakening U.S. dollar.
* Madam Speaker, it is still not too late or Congress to help the shrimp industry. Congress should immediately end subsidies to American shrimpers' foreign competitors, place a moratorium on harmful regulations imposed on the shrimp industry, and take action to reduce fuel prices by expanding the supply of oil. I urge my colleagues to join me in working to fix the misguided government policies that are harming America shrimpers.