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Change in Berry law a small victory for US textile sector
Jan '12
At a time when President Obama and his administration are on a new mission to repatriate American manufacturing jobs, the U.S. Industrial Fabrics Institute (USIFI) recently scored a small victory for the textile industry. USIFI is the manufacturing segment of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), and has a long track record of fighting policy decisions that kill American manufacturing jobs--semper vigilans.

This mission began two-and-a-half years ago when a surprise reinterpretation of the Berry Amendment was announced by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) saying that military tents could be constructed with components made offshore. That subtle interpretive phrasing would curtail American companies, and was contrary to the spirit of the Berry Amendment, (USC, Title 10, Section 2533a), a law which requires the Department of Defense to give preference in procurement to domestically produced, manufactured, or home grown products.

Congress originally passed domestic source restrictions as part of the 1941 Fifth Supplemental DoD Appropriations Act in order to guarantee a domestic source for products needed during war.

The battle begins
In 2009 at the request of its membership--the U.S. military tent supply chain--USIFI sent a letter to Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, explaining the industry's understanding of Berry compliance and requesting written clarification of the new DLA interpretation.

An August 2009 response from Nancy Heimbaugh, Director, Strategic Acquisition, DLA, reiterated DLA's position that only the fabric used in tents is subject to the Berry Amendment's domestic purchasing restriction; since tent components were not mentioned.

Ms. Heimbaugh's letter cited as an example a phrase in the Berry Amendment statute that refers specifically to components of clothing items.(This section of the Berry Amendment had been changed in 2006; prior to that time, no mention of clothing components had been included in the Berry Amendment.) Because of similar issues of non-compliant clothing components like buttons and embroidered emblems being used in military apparel, the apparel industry initiated the 2006 change to the Berry Amendment.

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Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI)

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