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Schrader Praises "Hot Goods" Settlement with Oregon Blueberry Growers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) today praised the settlement reached between Oregon blueberry growers Pan-American Berry Growers and Robert Ditchen and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) over the Agency’s inappropriate use of “hot goods” orders on perishable crops. 

“This is an issue about basic fairness and due process under the law. The Courts have spoken and made it abundantly clear that the Department of Labor grossly overstepped with its coercive tactics threatening the use of ‘hot goods’ orders against these Oregon farmers,” said Congressman Schrader.  “This settlement is long-overdue and finally brings some well-deserved justice for Oregon’s agriculture community that was being bullied by the federal government.  I want to praise these Oregon farmers who had the courage to challenge the actions of the DOL. I know they are grateful to have their good names back and I want to reiterate my commitment to fixing the law so the Department of Labor can’t threaten or apply a hot goods order to perishable agriculture commodities in the future.”

In January 2014, a federal judge threw out a consent agreement between the growers and the DOL stating that the Agency used coercive actions in obtaining the signatures of the growers.

In July 2014, Congressman Schrader, then-Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture of the House Agriculture Committee, led a hearing where he questioned DOL officials regarding their use of “hot good” orders on perishable goods.  Congressmen Schrader and Austin Scott (R-GA) introduced legislation (HR 1387) that would prevent DOL from issuing such orders in the future.

Under the terms of the settlement between the growers and the DOL:

  • All current claims will be dismissed and any previous investigations will be dropped.
  • The DOL will reimburse all consent judgment funds to Ditchen and Pan-American
  • In addition to the reimbursement, each grower will receive $30,000.