SCHUMER: FEDERAL WOOL TRUST FUND, SET TO EXPIRE NEXT YEAR, MUST BE RENEWED IN UPCOMING FARM BILL; TRUST FUND VITAL TO FIX UNFAIR TARIFF ‘INVERSION’ THAT WOULD OTHERWISE PENALIZE HICKEY FREEMAN FOR MAKING SUITS IN U.S.A.; SENATOR SAYS WOOL TRUST FUND PROGRAM IS RENEWED IN JUST-RELEASED SENATE FARM BILL AND MUST BE SIGNED INTO LAW BEFORE IT EXPIRES
Schumer: Senate Farm Bill Tariff Fix Gives Hundreds Of Rochester Hickey Freeman Workers Level Playing Field To Compete
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed the just-released Senate Farm Bill includes a fully-funded and extended Wool Trust Fund program, which Rochester icon Hickey Freeman relies on for crucial tariff relief. Schumer, who has long fought for this Wool Trust Fund, said this program, which is set to expire in 2019, is essential to put Hickey Freeman back on a level playing field with overseas suit competitors who import suits into the U.S. without ever having to pay the same wool duties as U.S. suit producers. This created an uneven playing field that gave an unfair leg-up to foreign suit manufacturers while putting our own U.S. manufacturers like Hickey Freeman in the lurch.
“I fought tooth and nail to get the Wool Trust Fund provision in the pending Senate Farm Bill because it is so vital to creating a level playing field for Rochester icon Hickey Freeman and its signature ‘Made in the USA’ world-class clothing. This is a major victory for Hickey Freeman and the Rochester community, and I will work to see it part of the final bill,” said Senator Schumer. “With the inclusion of Wool Trust Fund, Hickey Freeman can continue to compete with foreign competitors, grow jobs, and expand business throughout the community. I will work with my colleagues in both the House and Senate to ensure this program, that is otherwise set to expire in 2019, is safe now and in the future.”
According to Schumer, the Wool Trust Fund program was created more than a decade ago to compensate the domestic suit industry for the competitive disadvantage that results from an unfair tariff inversion where the duty on the imported finished product is lower than the duty on the inputs used to make the product here at home. Under the Wool Trust Fund program, U.S. manufacturers of wool clothing and fabric are eligible for a partial refund of duties paid on imports of wool inputs.
The Wool Trust Fund program also provides U.S. wool producers with funding for improvements in wool production methods and development of the wool market. In 2014, Schumer was instrumental to first secure legislation in that year’s federal Farm Bill to extend the Wool Trust Funds authorization for five years through 2019 and to secondly restore adequate trust fund payment levels to address several years when the Trust was underfunded. The provision Schumer is announcing today would extend the Wool Trust Fund through 2023. Schumer said today he is urging his colleagues in both the House and Senate to ensure this provision in the Senate Farm Bill is preserved in the final Farm Bill that will be signed into law, particularly since the House version of the farm bill would drastically cut the Trust Fund by 50 percent. U.S. manufacturers and wool producers - and their American workers - would be hard hit by the elimination of the Wool Trust Fund program. Hickey Freeman has saved millions of dollars over the past few years through the program and this provision will ensure they receive the dollars they are owed.
Hickey Freeman has been producing menswear in Rochester since 1926. Each year Hickey Freeman produces over 100,000 units of clothing, each completed by hundreds of individual human processes. Hickey Freeman is a vital economic development anchor in Rochester’s northeast quadrant. The label has maintained its operations in Rochester since its founding and maintains its “Made in USA” standard. Jeremiah Hickey and Jacob Freeman began manufacturing men’s suits at the end of the 20th century, and today Hickey Freeman still specializes in making high-quality tailored garments.
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