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:
GIPSA: Amendment Regarding Electronic Livestock Transactions Sent to President
On October 3, 2016, after unanimous consent by the United States Senate, President Barak Obama was presented with H.R. 5883 which would amend the Packers & Stockyards Act (GIPSA) “to expand the definition of ‘marketing agency’ to include any person engaged in the business of buying or selling livestock in commerce through online, video, or other electronic methods on a commission or other fee basis when handling or providing a means to handle receivables or proceeds from the sale of that livestock.” According to the Bill Summary, H.R. 5883 would also amend GIPSA “to specif[y] that funds for purchasing livestock may be transferred to the account of the seller by electronic funds transfer or any other expeditious method that the Department of Agriculture determines to be appropriate.”
Livestock Trading: AMS to Require Online Cattle Exchange Reporting
On September 29, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued a press release announcing that beginning October 5, 2016, AMS will include “in the National and Regional direct negotiated slaughter cattle reports, cattle purchased through the Fed Cattle Exchange by packers required to report according to the [Livestock Mandatory Reporting] Act and regulation.” According to AMS, the Fed Cattle Exchange was created early in 2016 as an online platform to provide “a web based interface where feedlots can offer pens of market ready cattle for sale, and packers can bid on those offerings in a timed format, similar to an online auction.” AMS stated that the inclusion of the Fed Exchange reports in the National and Regional direct negotiated slaughter cattle reports was at the request of the cattle industry.
Labeling: FSIS Issues Guidance for Animal Raising Claims
On October 5, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published notice in the Federal Register “announcing the availability of an updated version of the Agency's compliance guideline on documentation needed to support animal-raising claims on product labels that must be submitted for Agency approval before they can be used on product labels” (81 FR 68933). Comments on the guidance document must be submitted on or before December 5, 2016. According to FSIS, although the agency “is requesting comments on this guideline and may update it in response to comments, FSIS encourages establishments that wish to submit request for approvals of animal raising claims on product labels to begin using this guideline.”
Indemnity: APHIS Announces Updated Calculator for Laying Hens
On September 30, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a press release announcing an update to the agency’s indemnity calculator formula for laying hens. According to APHIS, the updated indemnity calculator formula “addresses concerns raised by egg layer producers following the 2014-2015 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)” and is intended to “more closely resemble a fair market transaction.” The new APHIS indemnity calculator formula became effective October 1, 2016.
International: U.S. Senate Ratifies Genetic Resources Treaty
On September 28, 2016, the United States Senate passed a resolution of advice and consent ratifying the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on November 3, 2001, and signed by the United States on November 1, 2002 (the Treaty). According to the resolution, “[t]he centerpiece of the Treaty is the establishment of a multilateral system under which a party provides access to other parties…to listed plant genetic resources held in national genebanks…solely for purposes of research, breeding, and training in agriculture.”