Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:
GMO Labeling: Federal Legislation Moves Forward
Federal legislation establishing a “National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard” (S.Amdt.4935 to S.764) has steadily progressed through Congress. On July 7, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed the bill by a vote of 63-30. On July 14, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 306-117. Significantly, Bloomberg has reported that President Obama intends to “sign [the bill] in its current form.” If enacted, the proposed legislation would create a national labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) and preempt state GMO labeling laws.
FSMA: FDA Issues Final Rule on Registration of Food Facilities
On July 14, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule amending the agency’s regulations regarding the registration of those food facilities that require FDA registration of "domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States” (81 FR 45911). The final rule becomes effective September 12, 2016.
Animal Welfare: Court Allows Animal Confinement Ballot Initiative
On July 6, 2016, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts determined that the state attorney general properly certified a ballot initiative that proposed prohibiting: (1) the confinement, “in a cruel manner,” commercially raised egg-laying hens, calves raised for veal, and breeding pigs; and (2) the sale of such confined animals. (Dunn v. Attorney General, 474 Mass. 675). As a result of the decision, the Massachusetts Farm Animal Containment Initiative may now appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot.
Legislation: Bill Introduced to Exempt Farms from Solid Waste Disposal Act
On July 8, 2016, federal legislation was introduced to amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act so as to redefine the term “solid waste” to specifically not include animal waste, manure, or fertilizer (H.R. 5685). According to the bill, clarification is necessary because it was never the intent of Congress to include animal waste, manure, or fertilizer under the Solid Waste Disposal Act.