Section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 provides that when certain domestically produced commodities are regulated by a federal marketing order, imports of the commodity must meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality and maturity requirements.
Currently, the imported commodities subject to Section 8e of the Act are: avocados, dates (other than dates for processing), hazelnuts (filberts), grapefruit, table grapes, kiwifruit, olives (other than Spanish-style), onions, oranges, Irish potatoes, pistachios, raisins, tomatoes and walnuts. Grading and quality inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service is required for each lot (shipment) imported.
Section 8e quality requirements are intended to (1) develop dependable markets for products by ensuring consumer satisfaction and encouraging repeat purchases, (2) promote buyer satisfaction and increased sales for these commodities by ensuring that only acceptable quality products are in the U.S. marketplace, and (3) help avoid market disruption associated with poor quality offerings. By making a quality product available to U.S. consumers, the agricultural industries in both countries benefit.
For some Section 8e commodities, much of the foreign production occurs in a growing season that is different from that in the United States; thus, foreign production complements U.S. production. However, imports of a commodity are regulated by Section 8e only during the period of time that the domestic commodity is also being shipped and regulated.
Section 8e import regulations are consistent with the purpose of Article III of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which ensures that imports are not discriminated against by being subjected to standards higher than those applied to domestic products. Also, inspection and certification of both imports and domestic commodities regulated under marketing orders take place prior to the commodity entering U.S. commercial channels.
Any person who violates any provision of Section 8e, or any regulation, is subject to fines and/or penalties.