Thursday, December 8, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—December 8, 2016

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:

Labeling: FDA to Extend Menu Labeling Compliance Date
On December 2, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the agency “will soon publish a final rule to formally extend to May 5, 2017, the compliance date for the agency’s 2014 menu labeling regulation, which requires disclosure of certain nutrition information for standard menu items in certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments.” According to FDA, the change is intended “[t]o bring the official compliance date into alignment with the enforcement date.” Prior to the announcement, the official compliance date had been December 1, 2016. 

Labeling: USDA Proposes Changes to Meat and Poultry Nutritional Fact Panel
On December 1, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a press release stating that the agency “is proposing to amend the nutrition labeling regulations for meat and poultry products to parallel the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) final nutrition regulations, which were published on May 27, 2016.” According to FSIS, the proposed changes are intended to “improve the presentation of nutritional information” so that consumers a better able to make healthy dietary decisions.

Industrial Hemp: PA Opens Application Process for Pilot Research Projects
On December 1, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) announced the release of the application and guidelines for persons and institutions of higher learning interested in conducting industrial hemp pilot research projects.  According to PDA, a maximum of 30 projects will be selected for the 2017 growing season and the deadline for application is January 6, 2017.  PDA stated that only “products or uses that would use hemp fiber or seed for industrial purposes” will be approved.

GMO: USDA Finds no Evidence of Washington GE Wheat in Commerce
On December 1, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a press release stating that the agency had closed its fact finding and determined that genetically engineered (GE) wheat detected in Washington State did not enter into commerce.  The investigation was the result of a July 2016 discovery of 22 GE wheat plants (developed by the Monsanto Company and referred to as MON 71700) growing in an unplanted agricultural field.

Regulations: USDA Announces Changes to Reporting and Notification of Imported Fruits, Vegetables, and Specialty Crops
On December 5, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) posted notice in the Federal Register of an interim rule that “updates reporting and notification requirements associated with, and makes clarifying changes to, the fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop import regulations for certain commodities regulated under section 608(e)…of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937” (81 FR 87409).  According to the notice, the effective date of the interim rule is December 8, 2016 and those comments received by February 3, 2017 will be considered prior to the issuance of a final rule.

Dairy: USDA Amends Tariff-Rate Quota Import Licensing Program
On December 6, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) posted notice in the Federal Register that the agency was issuing a final rule amending the Dairy Tariff-Rate Quota Import Licensing Program (81FR 87801).  According to the notice, effective December 9, 2016, “for the purposes of the Dairy Tariff-Rate Quota Import Licensing Program, U.S. Customs and Border Protection import entries submitted electronically, as well as on paper, are acceptable.

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