The American Sheep Industry Association joined nearly two dozen groups in asking the U.S. House Armed Services Committee to oppose amendments to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that would weaken the Berry Amendment.
A letter sent this week to the committee's chair, Mac Thornberry (Texas), and ranking member, Adam Smith (Wash.), urged the committee to protect the Berry Amendment, which prohibits the U.S. Department of Defense from procuring certain products (including textiles, clothing and footwear) unless those products are made with American materials and labor.
The most recent threat to the Berry Amendment comes in the area of athletic footwear for the United States military. The issue was addressed just two years ago, but Congressman Brad Wenstrup (Ohio) has offered an amendment that would weaken the statutory requirement.
"The actions taken two years ago by your committee not only ensure that our recruits will receive the highest quality athletic footwear that is designed especially for the rigors of Initial Entry Training but also have spurred renewed interest and growth in domestic footwear manufacturing," read the letter. "As the Berry Amendment is designed to do, it is supporting the domestic manufacturing base.
"Second, we were also aware of another amendment that attempts to remove zippers, buttons, snaps and other non-textile components from important Berry Amendment protections. The Berry Amendment has been a staple of defense procurement for decades. During that time, Berry has covered clothing and shoes, and all components thereof, supporting tens of thousands of jobs in an integrated, domestic textile, apparel and footwear manufacturing industry.
"If such language were to become law, it would come at the expense of U.S. manufacturing jobs in U.S. factories that produce these components for the U.S. military, and would erode important protections that currently support this entire industrial base."