California olive-oil producer Pat Ricchiuti feels the squeeze of foreign competition. So do his counterparts in Texas, Georgia and a handful of other states.

Now, with the help of congressional allies, these leading U.S. olive-oil producers are forcing a closer look at a tough global market. In a U.S. International Trade Commission hearing this week, officials ratcheted up a yearlong investigation that could end up pitting importers against domestic producers and one country against another.

“We just want a level playing field so we can compete,” said Ricchiuti, president of Enzo Olive Oil in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

The six-member trade commission summoned Ricchiuti, Central Texas Olive Ranch Executive Vice President Joshua Swafford, Georgia Olive Farms President Jason Shaw and some 20 other witnesses as representatives of a diverse industry. Through the hearing, and other steps including an upcoming fact-finding trip to Europe, the trade commission is collecting evidence that lawmakers and negotiators eventually could deploy in future fights.

For more, see: U.S. olive-oil makers seek ‘level playing field’