Written by Joseph Mooradian and Deanna Smith – Research Assistants
Animal Welfare: House Appropriations Committee Approves Transportation Regulations Impacting Livestock
On July 17, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved language permanently extending exemptions to regulations which impact the transport of livestock. Previously, regulations enacted in 49 U.S.C. 31137 required that certain types of commercial transport vehicles, including those transporting livestock, have a device installed which would track the vehicle’s hours of operation. This electronic logging device (ELD) worked to keep drivers in compliance with hours of service (HOS) requirements enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The appropriations subcommittee’s report on the appropriations bill stated that these regulations are, “problematic for livestock which can become overheated and may sometimes die without the air flow provided by the motion of the truck,” and “encourages” the FMCSA to take a more varied approach to livestock transporter’s exemption requests to HOS requirements. As such, Section 132 of the bill restricts FMCSA funding from going towards enforcement of the ELD requirements.
Crop Insurance: Beekeeper Insurance to be Expanded to the 48 Contiguous States
On July 27, 2017, the USDA issued a press release stating that crop insurance provided by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) would now cover all 48 contiguous states. This announcement expands the Apiculture Pilot Insurance (API) plan, “ensuring greater protection for the producers’ honey, pollen collection, wax, and breeding stock.” Interested producers have until November 15, 2017 to enroll with an RMA crop insurance agent for the 2018 crop year.
WOTUS: EPA Begins Formal Process to Change WOTUS Definition
On July 27, 2017, the EPA issued a proposed rule aimed at revising the definition of the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), in order to alter the administration of the Clean Water Act (33 CFR Part 328). This proposed rule comes in response to President Trump’s Executive order from February 28, 2017, which called for a revision to the current definition of WOTUS in accordance with a stay on the definition ordered by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court. This proposed rule seeks to return to a definition from before the 2015 Clean Water Rule, in an attempt to, “provide continuity and certainty for regulated entities, the States, agency staff, and the public.”
Biofuels: Court Rules Against EPA Reductions in Renewable Fuel Volumes
On July 28, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to reduce the total renewable fuel volume requirements for 2016. Americans for Clean Energy, among other groups, brought suit over the reduced biofuel requirement, and the Circuit Court held that the EPA must review its rule, stating that the, “EPA erred in how it interpreted the ‘inadequate domestic supply’ waiver provision,” as outlined in the Renewable Fuel Standard Program Accordingly, the EPA’s recently announced biofuel decreases for 2018 have been removed from its website.
Pesticides: Monsanto Appeals California Listing Glyphosate as Carcinogenic
On July 21, 2017, Monsanto filed an appeal of the dismissal of its suit contending California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) classification of Monsanto’s pesticide glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen,” according to Food Chemical News. FCN reported that Monsanto’s lawsuit originated in January 2016, when the chemical was originally designated a probable carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65, through which the state identifies substances it believes to be carcinogenic and notifies the public. The lawsuit was dismissed this past March, which Monsanto is now appealing in California’s 5th District Court of Appeal.
Antitrust: Tyson Price-Fixing Lawsuit Dismissed
On July 26, 2017, a lawsuit against Tyson Foods alleging that Tyson had conspired to fix prices was dismissed by the Federal District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. The lawsuit started as four separate complaints, but was eventually consolidated into a single case alleging that, “Tyson engaged in an industry-wide antitrust conspiracy aimed at depressing the domestic supply of broiler chickens, thus keeping prices and margins high.” The opinion, available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records website, (Case 5:16-cv-05362-TLB) stated that “the Complaint fails to plausibly allege that Tyson entered into an agreement with its industry competitors to suppress the domestic supply of chicken, in order to increase prices.”
Agriculture and Rural Affairs [House]
- HB1689: An Act amending the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, further providing for purchase of agricultural conservation easements, for Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund and for Land Trust Reimbursement Program. (Referred to Agriculture and Rural Affairs, July 27, 2017)
- "Costs mounting for delayed approval of GE crops in Africa" – Feedstuffs
- "FDA asked to weigh in on soy milk debate" – Feedstuffs
- "Mooovin' away from 'bargain-bin' UK: Raising livestock standards post-Brexit" – Food Navigator
- "Chicago's soda tax to go into effect after clearing legal hurdle" – CNN
- "How far do consumers want Non-GMO claims to go in the dairy case?" – Food Navigator
- "House Energy and Commerce Committee advance menu labeling bill" – Food Chemical News
- "Confusion over food labels abounds in U.S. households: poll" – Meatingplace
- "Perdue: Current Farm Visa Program ‘Unworkable’" – AgWeb
- "Assessing the Pulse of the Next Farm Bill" – Farmdocdaily
- "Trump administration begins formal process to repeal WOTUS definition" – Delta Farm Press
- "USDA PRESS RELEASE: Apiculture Insurance Expanded to More States" – USDA
- "USDA, FFA sign MOU" – Feedstuffs
- "Pork Industry Backs EPA Request to Delay Emissions Changes" – AgWeb
- "How To Navigate Farm Change In A Mad World" – AgWeb
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