Thursday, January 26, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—January 26, 2017

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:

Federal Regulations: President Issues Freeze on New and Pending Regulations
On January 20, 2017, Reince Priebus, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, issued a Memorandum on behalf of the President placing a freeze on any new or pending federal regulations.  First, the memorandum stated that no new regulations may be sent to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) until an agency or department head appointed by the President reviews and approves the regulation.  Second, any regulation already sent to OFR, but not published in the Federal Register (FR), must be immediately withdrawn. Third, any regulations published in the FR, but which have not taken effect, will have their effective date delayed for 60 days from the date of the memorandum (January 20, 2017).

Genetically Engineered: USDA Proposes Changes to Biotechnology Regulations
On January 19, 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Service (APHIS) published notice in the Federal Register that the agency is “revis[ing] its regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered organisms” (82 FR 7008).  According to APHIS, the proposed revision is “in response to advances in genetic engineering and understanding of the plant pest and noxious weed risk posed by genetically engineered (GE) organisms, thereby reducing burden for regulated entities whose organisms pose no plant pest or noxious weed risks.” The comment period for the proposed rule closes May 19, 2017.

Plant Technology: FDA Requests Comment for Genome Editing of Plants Used for Human and Animal Food
On January 19, 2017, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in the Federal Register announcing the “establishment of a docket to receive comments on the use of genome editing techniques to produce new plant varieties that are used for human or animal food” (82 FR 6564).  According to FDA, “[r]ecently, new technologies have emerged that are intended to alter the genomes of various organisms…[which] make it easier for plant developers to produce new plant varieties with targeted genetic modifications.” As a result, FDA seeks comment to help inform the agency’s thinking regarding foods derived from new plant varieties using these technologies.  The comment period closes April 19, 2017. 

International Trade: President Withdraws US from Tran-Pacific Partnership
On January 25, 2017, President Donald J. Trump published notice in the Federal Register of a Memorandum entitled: Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement (82 FR 8497).  According to the Memorandum, the President directs the United States Trade Representative to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to permanently withdraw the United States from TPP negotiations.

Labeling: Revision to Nutrition Facts Label for Meat and Poultry Products 
On January 19, 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published notice in the Federal Register of a proposed rule to amend the nutrition labeling requirements for meat and poultry products (82 FR 6732).  Included among FSIS’s proposed changes are a revision to the format and appearance of the Nutrition Facts label and an update to the list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared.  The comment period for the proposed rule closes March 20, 2017.

Dairy: Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board Meeting Scheduled
On January 21, 2017, the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (Board) published notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin that the Board will conduct a public hearing for Milk Marketing Areas 1—6 on February 27, 2017, at 10 a.m. in Room 309, Agriculture Building, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA (47 Pa.B. 396).  According to the notice, “[t]he purpose of the hearing is to receive testimony and exhibits concerning the level and duration of the Class I over-order premium to be effective April 1, 2017.”

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