12.14.18

SCHUMER SECURES FULLY-FUNDED FEDERAL WOOL TRUST IN FINAL BIPARTISAN 2018 FARM BILL ESSENTIAL FOR HICKEY FREEMAN TO MAINTAIN ROCHESTER FACTORY; TRUST FUND, SET TO EXPIRE NEXT YEAR, IS VITAL TO PROVIDE WOOL TARIFF RELIEF FOR HICKEY FREEMAN; SENATOR SAYS FARM BILL MUST BE SIGNED INTO LAW BEFORE IT EXPIRES

Schumer: 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 newly-released bipartisan Farm Bill Conference Report includes a fully-funded and extended Wool Trust Fund program, which Rochester icon Hickey Freeman relies on for crucial tariff relief.  The tariff relief helps Hickey Freeman keep its manufacturing operations in Rochester by keeping its costs commensurate with overseas competitors that are not subject to these tariffs. 

 Schumer explained he secured a provision in the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill to fully fund the Wool Trust Fund through 2023. However, the House of Representatives version of the farm bill included a 50% cut to the program, which would have put U.S. manufacturers like Hickey Freeman at a significant disadvantage over their foreign competitors.  Therefore Schumer pushed to maintain the Senate’s version in the final joint Farm Bill Conference Report – and succeeded this week.

Schumer, who has long fought for this Wool Trust Fund, said this program, which was set to expire in 2019 but now will be extended for five years, 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. Schumer applauded his colleagues in the Senate and House for passing the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report which now must be signed by the President.

“I fought tooth and nail to get the Wool Trust Fund provision in this year’s 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, its wonderful workers and the Rochester community,” said Senator Schumer. “With the inclusion of a fully-funded five-year reauthorization for the Wool Trust Fund, Hickey Freeman can continue to compete with foreign competitors, to keep their manufacturing and hundreds of jobs in Rochester.”

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 Fund’s 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 will extend the Wool Trust Fund through 2023. 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 as much as $3 million a year 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. 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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