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We maintain a testing laboratory where these samples are tested to determine whether they meet the requirements of the acts and if not, the container manufacturers are advised to adjust their equipment to bring them into compliance, and new samples are then submitted to determine whether they meet the requirements. This laboratory would be discontinued and the manpower which is now devoted to this would be devoted to other work.
Mr. Roush. I understand the Department directed an inquiry to the various States asking for an opinion as to whether or not this should be repealed, these two acts should be repealed, and that 12 States have responded in opposition to the repeal of these two acts. Is this correct?
Mr. BROWNE. This survey was conducted by the Department of Commerce and I believe Mr. Jensen is prepared to comment on that.
Mr. Roush. Is it your opinion that these acts as they exist now do or do not satisfy a useful purpose for the various States?
Mr. BROWNE. It is the Department's position that in view of the relatively small volume of fresh fruits and vegetables which are now moving in these containers, the cost of administration of these acts is not justified by the benefits, the limited benefits, which are to be gained from the continued administration of these acts.
Mr. Roush. It seems rather ironical that last week this subcommittee was conducting hearings which hopefully will bring about a greater standardization, and this week we are repealing acts which deal with standardization.
That is just a comment.
Mr. ANDERSON. Mr. Browne, on page 2 you mention that the trend in selling of fruits and vegetables is by weight and count rather than volumetric measure, and you say
As a result, it is estimated that less than ten percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables shipped in interstate commerce are now packed in containers regulated under the Standard Container Acts of 1916 and 1928.
Do I gather, then, roughly 90 percent of all transactions, no matter what the level is, is on the weight and count basis rather than volumetric at the present time?
Mr. BROWNE. That is probably true. The figure which I gave applies only to interstate shipments. These estimates were made several years ago, and based on the information that we have available, the percentage is undoubtedly lower today than it was at that time, the time the estimates were made.
What has been happening is that new types of containers have been coming into use for the shipment of many commodities—for example peaches: Only a few years ago it was the customary procedure to ship eastern peaches in baskets, subject to these acts. In recent years there has been a marked shift in the type of containers used for shipment of peaches. This is illustrated by the results of a study conducted by Clemson University on shipments from South Carolina, the leading Eastern State in the production of peaches. According to the results of this survey, during the 1959 season, 98 percent of all peaches shipped out of South Carolina were shipped in baskets subject to these acts.
By 1962, only 3 years later, it had dropped to 80 percent, and by 1965, last season, it was down to 29 percent being shipped in baskets The balance are being shipped in containers not subject to regulatio by Federal statute.
Mr. ANDERSON. What do you foresee as the impact of repealing these acts, other than the purely administrative matter of saving $16,200?
Mr. BROWNE. We see relatively little impact from repeal of these acts. As you are perhaps aware, the industry has been very cooperstive in adhering to these statutes. We have had no formal prosecutions under either of these acts since 1939, which indicates that excel·lent cooperation has been given whenever we have had to call to the attention of the manufacturer the fact that his basket is not meeting the requirement.
Mr. ANDERSON. Some people will, to a certain extent, continue to use the old style, I guess you would call it, the old system of measurement. Do you think there would be any possibility of deceptive praetices creeping in?
Mr. BROWNE. Although the Department recommends the repeal c! these acts, we are on record favoring the passage of legislation which will prohibit deceptive and unfair practices in packaging and labeling. Such legislation is now before the House.
Mr. Roush. Then in your opinion the proposed Fair Packaging and Labeling Act does cover the items covered by these two sets: is that correct?
Mr. BROWNE. Yes, sir; that is right.
Mr. Roush. Under the present situation, is there any unfair advantage to one industry, that is one industry providing packaging or providing baskets or providing fiber board containers, for example
. over another?
Mr. BROWNE. Yes, and I think the manufacturers of containers subject to this act have been quite aware of this fact, because manufacturers of other types of containers not subject to Federal regulation have no restrictions whatsoever as to the shape, sizes, capacities of the containers which they may manufacture. As you perhaps recall, the act of 1928 was amended in 1964 to add five new sizes, and the reason given for this by the manufacturers who sponsored this amendment to the act was that they needed these in order to meet the competition from the unregulated types of containers. So that there is a definite economic advantage to the manufacturers of those types of containers not subject to regulation.
Mr. Roush. Are there present statutes on the books which deal with that same question which would be applicable if these two acts were repealed?
Mr. BROWNE. The labeling requirements of the Food and Drug Administration, I believe. Also, under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture, there is a requirement that any information shown on the label must be accurate.
Mr. Roush. I would like to call your attention to a letter which was written to Mr. Jensen, Chief, Office of Weights and Measures National Bureau of Standards, on May 5, 1966, by Mr. Rollin E. Meeks, director of the Division of Weights and Measures of the State
f Indiana. I pick this one out because it is my State. We have imilar letters, and in glancing over these letters, I find they are all of he same tenor.
In this letter Mr. Meeks says:
I wish to advise that it is my opinion that these Acts serve a useful purpose and hould not be repealed. A survey of our local fruit and vegetable markets disloses that standard containers are used to a considerable extent.
The Federal Standard Containers Act served to promote uniformity throughout he United States in the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables. Undoubtedly many tates like Indiana have laws governing intrastate commerce that are compatible vith these Federal Acts. Since the present standard baskets and other containers tre still used to a considerable extent and they in no way prevent the sale of fresh ruits and vegetables by net weight, I know of no justification for the repeal of Federal Acts mentioned. The repeal without the enactment of Federal legislation requiring these commodities to be sold only on the basis of net weight would ugain, in my opinion, promote non-uniformity and defeat one of the principal objectives of the Weight and Measures Administration.
Do you care to comment on Mr. Meeks' letter?
Mr. BROWNE. It is true that in local sales of many fruits and vegetables, particularly in the Midwest, baskets and hampers are still used even though in interstate trading they are relatively minor in importance. In much of this local trading, the containers used are secondhand containers—they are not always new containers. This is because it is a cheap type of container to obtain and it is an advantage to the grower to market in this
way. In addition, there is nothing to prevent the various States from retaining on the books those State statutes which might govern, as he says, those that are compatible with the Federal statute.
Mr. Roush. I have no further questions.
Mr. Roush. I believe we will excuse you now, then, and call our next witness. It may be that we will have a question to propound to you as we go through the testimony.
We are happy to have as our next witness a colleague of ours, Mr. Hathaway.
Mr. Hathaway, will you take the stand for some severe interrogation here? We are happy to have you with us, and we would be happy to receive your testimony at this time.
Mr. HATHAWAY. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am very grateful for this opportunity to testify.
I have a brief statement here. I believe it wouldn't take very long if I just simply read through it.
Mr. ROUSH. All right.
You may proceed, Mr. Hathaway. STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM D. HATHAWAY, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MAINE Mr. HATHAWAY. Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, I am grateful for the opportunity to appear before you this morning to urge your approval of S. 17, å bill similar to my own bill, H.R. 5068, to repeal certain acts relating to containers for fruits and vegetables, and for other purposes.
As you know, S. 17 would repeal the Standard Container Act of 1916 which establishes standard sizes for climax baskets for grapes and other fruits and vegetables and fixes standards for baskets, and other containers for fruits, berries, and vegetables. S. 17 would also repeal the Standard Container Act of 1928, which establishes standard sizes for hampers, round-stave baskets, and splint baskets used for fresh fruits and vegetables.
At the time they were passed, the Standard Container Acts served a useful purpose, for baskets and hampers were the principal types of containers used for the shipment of fresh fruits and vegetables. By bringing a degree of standardization to these containers, the acts served to bring order to the container industry and to reduce cost, confusion, and in some cases deception in the shipping of fruits and vegetables to the marketplace.
Many years have passed since the Standard Container Acts were enacted into law and they have, because of changing modes of shipping, become irrelevant and obsolete. Baskets and hampers have been displaced in large part by newer types of containers such as fibreboard cartons, crates, wooden boxes and mesh, paper, and plastic bags, to name but a few.
It should be noted, also, that most fruits and vegetables are now being sold by weight or count so that slight variations in the volume capacity of their containers are no longer an important marketing factor.
The diminishing relevancy of the Standard Container Acts is well illustrated by the fact that during the past 10 years, the number of factories producing containers subject to their regulation has dropped from 183 to 129, a reduction of 31 percent.
During the same 10-year period, the number of different containers manufactured by these factories has dropped from 726 to 584, 8 reduction of 20 percent. This would appear to indicate that the packaging industry is, on its own, devising packages, containers, and standards more appropriate to today's modes of marketing.
It is estimated that less than 10 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables currently being shipped in interstate commerce are packed in containers regulated under the Standard Container Acts.
In a letter to me dated August 31, 1966, the commissioner of Maine's Department of Agriculture said that his department has made a thorough study of the Container Acts. He said the acts are now outdated and serve no useful purpose. The Maine Department of Agriculture is in favor of repeal.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for the reasons which I have outlined, I, too, am in favor of the repeal of the Standard Container Acts of 1916 and 1928 and urge you to give a favorable report on the bill being considered today, S. 17.
Mr. Roush. Thank you, Mr. Hathaway.
Mr. ROUDEBUSH. Just this, Congressman. I want to congratulate you on a fine and concise statement and certainly one I think is thoroughly understandable by members of this committee. I am awfully happy you appeared today.
Mr. Roush. Mr. Hathaway, does Maine have acts which are dependent on these Federal acts?
In a letter from Mr. Meek of the State of Indiana he called attention to the fact that many States do have acts of their own controlling intrastate commerce which have depended on or have come about because of the existence of these acts. Do
know whether Maine has such an act?
Mr. HATHAWAY. I don't believe so, but Mr. Atwood could probably give me advice on that, if he would.
Mr. ATWOOD. Mr. Chairman, I am Edward W. Atwood, of Portland, Maine. I am going to speak later. I am representing Keyes Fibre Co.
Maine does have acts which here very much parallel these two acts, but do not contain what we consider the restrictive provisions, but they are entirely independent, Mr. Chairman, and are not dependent on these acts or any other Federal act.
Mr. Roush. In your statement you say that the acts we are now considering repealing did serve a useful purpose in that they brought about a degree of standardization to these containers. Why repeal these acts—why not amend these acts so as to include other types of containers that we are now using in order that we might not get away from this business of standardization?
Mr. HATHAWAY. I suppose if it were repealed you could make it broad enough so that it would cover the problem Keyes Fibre is going to testify to today, that it has not been able to put out a quart-and-ahalf-size container because the act says it has to be in quarts or multiples of a quart, and that puts them in a disadvantage, and this is a size container for which there is quite a market. So in answer to your question, Mr. Chairman, if it were made broad enough, I don't think there would be any complaints, but the easy thing to do, of course, is to simply repeal it.
Mr. Roush. All right.
Mr. Roush. Our next witness is Mr. Malcolm Jensen, Chief of the Office of Weights and Measures, National Bureau of Standards, Department of Commerce.
Mr. Jensen, we are pleased to have you here this morning, and you may proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MALCOLM W. JENSEN, CHIEF, OFFICE OF WEIGHTS
AND MEASURES, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE; ACCOM-
Mr. JENSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee.
I have with me Mr. Allen J. Farrar, representative of the Office of General Counsel, Department of Commerce, and legal adviser to the National Bureau of Standards, if you should desire to direct questions to him.
It is a pleasure to be here today in support of the proposed legislation, S. 17, which would repeal the Standard Container Acts of 1916 and 1928.