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:
Food Labeling: FDA Encourages 'Best If Used By' Date Labels
On May 23, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a letter encouraging the food industry to reduce food waste through the use of “Best If Used By” product labels. FDA stated that food manufacturers voluntarily use several phrases, such as “Best If Used By,” “Use By,” and “Sell By”, to indicate the date by which a product should be consumed for optimal quality. According to FDA, such phrases are only used to note product quality and not product safety. FDA asserted, however, that confusion over the different date labels has resulted in approximately 20% of consumer food waste. Based on consumer research, FDA is encouraging the standardized use of the phrase “Best If Used By” to emphasize to consumers that after the marked date, the product may not be at optimal quality but that it is still safe to consume.
Crop Insurance: USDA Announces Crop Insurance Benefits for Military Veterans
On May 22, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new federal crop insurance coverage benefits available to eligible military veterans with farms or ranches. According to USDA, to be eligible, a veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged and must “have actively operated and managed a farm or ranch with an insurable interest in any crop or livestock for five crop years or less or have been discharged from active duty during the most recent five crop years.” Created under the 2018 Farm Bill, the new crop insurance benefits for veterans provide:
- An exemption from administrative fees for catastrophic and additional coverage policies;
- An additional 10% premium subsidy for additional coverage policies with premium subsidies;
- The ability to use another person’s production history for specific acreage transferred to a veteran who previously was involved in the crop production on that acreage; and
- An increase in yield adjustment from 60 to 80% of the applicable transitional yield.
International Trade: USDA Announces Support for Farmers Affected by Trade Dispute
On May 23, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced several actions to help U.S. farmers negatively affected by the U.S.’s ongoing trade dispute with China. According to USDA, U.S. farmers have suffered financially due to Chinese tariffs and market distortions which have limited U.S. agricultural exports to China. To help those U.S. farmers negatively affected, USDA announced $16 billion in assistance programs. First, under the Market Facilitation Program, USDA’s Farm Service Agency will provide $14.5 billion in direct payments to qualifying producers. Next, under the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase $1.4 billion of surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation. Finally, under the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program, USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service will issue $100 million to assist in developing new export markets.
Antibiotic Use: APHIS Releases Data on Beef and Swine Antimicrobial Use
On May 23, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the results from research examining the use of antimicrobials at beef feedlots and large swine operations in 2016. According to the data collected, 87.5% of the beef feedlots gave cattle antimicrobials in feed, water, or by injection. Additionally, 95.5% of the swine operations gave market pigs antimicrobials in feed, water, or by injection. According to APHIS, the main reason antimicrobials were used at both feedlots and swine operations was to prevent, control, or treat disease. APHIS did note that the results did not account for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s January 2017 rule change preventing antimicrobials used for human health from being utilized to promote growth in food-producing animals.
Checkoff Programs: USDA Announces National Pork Board Appointments
On May 28, 2019, The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the appointment of five new members to the National Pork Board. The appointed members are: Russell A. Nugent III, Lowell, Ark.; Gene Noem, Ames, Iowa; Bill Luckey, Columbus, Neb.; Alicia Pedemonti, Hopkinton, N.H.; and Michael P. Skahill, Williamsburg, Va. The National Pork Board consists of 15 members appointed for three-year terms by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Board members are responsible for the collection, distribution and program accountability of the Pork Checkoff. Under the current Pork Checkoff program U.S. pork producers and importers pay $0.40 per $100 of value when pigs are sold in the U.S. and when pigs, pork, or pork products are imported into the U.S.
From National Ag Law Experts:
, Kristine A. Tidgren, The Ag Docket – Iowa State University Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (May 24, 2019)
, Kenneth D. Ackerman, Elliot Belilos, AG/FDA Blog, Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC (May 15, 2019)
Federal Actions and Notices:
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
: Legislation requiring that all dogs or cats adopted from an animal shelter be spayed/neutered by a veterinarian prior to release from the shelter (Referred to Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 24, 2019)
: Legislation providing for compensation and for applications for dog licenses, fees and penalties (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 23, 2019)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture
Independent Regulatory Review Commission
(Department of Agriculture Milk Sanitation)
State Conservation Commission
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:
Penn State Research:
- Penn State News
– St. Louis Post-Dispatch
– WWJ News Radio
“Congress looks to pause future ag consolidation” – Feedstuffs
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