5 Fast Facts About the Berry Amendment
The Berry Amendment was passed to help American manufacturers. Laws passed by the legislature will rarely instruct private businesses where or how they procure their goods. The one area where Congress can influence manufacturing is in dictating preferences for government agencies. By favoring American companies in their purchases, organizations like the Department of Defense can have a positive impact on the American economy.
The Berry Amendment is part of the Buy American Act. The Berry Amendment was named for Ellis Berry, who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1951 – 1971. During his first term in Congress, Berry introduced an amendment to the Buy American Act to expand the law to cover all clothing, cotton, and wool. The Buy American Act was initially created in 1933, signed into law on the last day of Hoover’s Presidency. This was meant as an answer to the damage done to the economy by the Great Depression, which was at its lowest point. Though it’s impossible to point to one solution or event that helped the country recover, the Buy American Act was passed at around the same time that the economy began to improve.
Berry Amendment Compliance is a requirement for manufacturers of Department of Defense contracts. The Berry Amendment, codified into permanent law in 1994, makes it unlawful for the Department of Defense to purchase specific materials from non-US manufacturers. This creates a legal mandate at every level of administration for a large government department to spend taxpayer money specifically on American products.
The Amendment specifically applies to textiles, food, and specialty metals. The category of textiles includes a large number of different kinds of equipment and material used by various operators within the Department of Defense. The Amendment includes tents, cotton and other natural fibers like silk or wool, synthetic fabric, clothing, fuel bladders, and hazmat suits. Other kinds of products might be covered by other statues, laws or amendments. Some examples of this include Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) and Procedures, Guidance, and Information (PGI).
Compliance is a guarantee that all products and components are completely domestic. The Berry Amendment, as a part of the Buy American Act, specifically adds the above products to the top-level instructions of the law.
What is the Berry Amendment?
The Berry Amendment stipulates that any Department of Defense textile product must be created in the United States, by American-owned manufacturers. A Berry Amendment compliant product is one that meets those criteria. It’s a common misconception that a company or organization can be Berry Compliant. It’s not the company but the products that the company makes that are Berry Amendment compliant. A company that can create Berry compliant products may also produce products that wouldn’t necessarily meet the strictures and requirements outlined in the Berry Amendment.
What is the History of the Berry Amendment?
The Berry Amendment was named for Ellis Yarnal Berry, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During his tenure in Congress, Berry introduced an amendment to the Buy American Act to expand the law to cover all clothing, cotton, and wool. Ever since 1952 any restrictions in the annual Defense Appropriation Acts became known as Berry Amendments.
Although it was originally passed in the 1950s, The Berry Amendment continues the requirement that restricts the Department of Defense (DoD) from using funds for buying food, clothing, fabrics, fibers, yarns, other textiles, and hand or measuring tools that are not grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the United States. The Berry Amendment has been critical to maintaining the safety and security of our armed forces, by requiring covered items to be produced in the United States. With respect to textiles and clothing, the Berry Amendment has been critical to the viability of the production base in the United States.
Is the Berry Amendment Also the Kissel Amendment?
In 2009, Congressman Larry Kissell proposed legislation added to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act mandating that any textile products contracted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security be manufactured in the United States with 100 percent U.S. inputs. This so-called Kissell Amendment was modeled on and restates many of the specific provisions of the Berry Amendment.
Are There Exceptions to the Berry Amendment?
The official website of the International Trade Administration lists some noteworthy exemptions to the Berry Amendment but also notes that these are rare. Major exceptions to the Berry Amendment are typically restricted to items that cannot be obtained by domestic manufacturers. In a country as diverse and entrepreneurial as the US, this is a rare exemption indeed.