Public Meetings, Congressional Hearings, Calls for Comments

FOOD & AGRICULTURE 

  • Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, held a hearing on opportunities and challenges for agriculture trade with Cuba. Read more
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, released the following opening statement - as prepared for delivery - at the "Opportunities and Challenges for Agriculture Trade with Cuba" hearing.
  • On Wednesday, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, held a public hearing to review the reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act. Read more
  • House Committee on Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement on the European Commission's proposal to allow EU countries to ignore science-based safety and environmental determinations made by the European Union and "opt out" of imports of products of biotechnology.
  • Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee, held a public hearing to review the reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act. Read more
  • U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced a bipartisan bill to help support and improve the export of American agricultural commodities to Cuba. Read more
  • On the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, joined forces with three other Congressmen to introduce legislation that permanently bans the killing of horses for human consumption in America.  It also bans the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses where the animals are killed and then shipped overseas. Read more
  • On Monday, Kraft announced that the original version of its Macaroni & Cheese dinner sold in the U.S. will no longer contain artificial preservatives of synthetic colors. Read more
  • The USDA will offer Greek yogurt as a meat alternative in school lunches nationwide this fall, after a successful 12-state test with Chobani and a Buffalo supplier. Read more
  • California water regulators on Saturday revised a still-tentative drought plan by easing cuts for Los Angeles and San Diego and bumping up reduction targets in the areas that consume the most water. Read more
  • The Vermont Attorney General's Office adopted new regulations last week for labeling food products containing genetically engineered ingredients sold in Vermont after July 1, 2016. Read more
  • After weeks of gradual recalls, Blue Bell Creameries is now pulling all of its products off the shelves. Read more
  • McDonald's Corp. said Wednesday it has closed 350 underperforming restaurants around the world in the first quarter, as the company continued to suffer from negative sales and traffic in each of its major markets. Read more
  • A University of Maine researcher has received a $4.9-million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop ways of using non-thermal technologies to control microbial contamination of low-moisture foods. Read more
  • USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for six rural electric infrastructure projects, including three in North Carolina that will use solar energy to generate electricity for rural communities. Read more
  • Voluntary efforts by farmers, ranchers, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve air quality in California's San Joaquin Valley have received regulatory acknowledgement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Earlier this month, EPA published a revision to California's State Implementation Plan that for the first time credits these producer actions from a regulatory perspective. Read more
  • In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, America's farmers, ranchers and forest managers have partnered with the USDA to voluntarily help Gulf of Mexico ecosystems recover. Their proven conservation efforts on private lands have helped clean and conserve water, restore habitat and strengthen agricultural operations in the region. Read more
  • The U.S. Forest Service is announcing new Youth Conservation Corps job opportunities on national forests throughout the country. Young people from across the United States are encouraged to apply for these jobs at a local forest or with a partner organization. Read more
  • At a ribbon cutting ceremony, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the activation of USDA's first solar array project in the National Capital Region. The 1.6 Megawatt (MW) solar farm, located at the George Washington Carver Center (Carver Center) in Beltsville, Maryland, is the largest solar array on federal property in this region. Read more
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack celebrated Earth Day by announcing support for projects to improve rural water and wastewater services, promote renewable energy, and promote the efficient use of energy resources. Read more
  • U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Bi-State population of greater sage-grouse does not require the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Read more
  • In a speech at Michigan State University, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack laid out a comprehensive approach to partner with agricultural producers to address the threat of climate change. Building on the creation of USDA's Climate Hubs last year, the new initiatives will utilize voluntary, incentive-based conservation, forestry, and energy programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration and expand renewable energy production in the agricultural and forestry sectors. Read more

 TRADE AND INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURE

  • The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would streamline passage of global trade deals through Congress. Read more
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) praised Committee action on a series of trade bills, including S.995, bipartisan legislation to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and issued the following statement
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tried on Wednesday to block the Finance Committee from being able to consider a fast-track trade bill. Read more
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo and Washington are near an agreement on a major Pacific free-trade pact, a deal that would help advance President Barack Obama's economic agenda and tighten ties between the two allies as they seek to counter China's growing influence. Read more
  • Japan and the U.S. made progress on contentious trade topics in the past week and the countries' top negotiators will continue to work on outstanding issues early Monday, Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said. Read more
  • The European Union proposed new rules that would allow individual member states to ban the sale of genetically modified crops for nonscientific reasons, drawing a swift rebuke from the U.S. government and the food industry on both sides of the Atlantic. Read more
  • Rahul Gandhi, the heir to India's most famous political family, sought to rally farmers against the government's land acquisition bill as he looks to revive his party's popularity following a mysterious two-month absence. Read more
  • The EU has given Thailand, the world's third-largest seafood exporter, six months to crack down on illegal fishing or face a trade ban on its fish imports. Read more
  • The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from relatives of thousands of victims of conflict in Colombia aiming to sue Chiquita Brand International. Read more
  • Republican Jeb Bush on Wednesday bashed Democratic 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton for voicing reservations about overseas trade talks, a rare issue on which the White House enjoys support from Republicans, with many Democrats opposed. Read more

USDA REPORTS

WHITE HOUSE

  • Vice President Biden began selling the Obama administration's energy infrastructure investment plan on Tuesday, pitching it as a pro-business, pro-middle-class economic driver at a utility provider in Philadelphia. Read more

CONGRESS 

  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Sunday announced that he would seek reelection to his state's senior Senate seat in 2016. Read more
  • The Senate on Wednesday passed legislation aimed at curbing human trafficking, ending a month-long fight over abortion that bitterly divided the parties and held up attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch. Read more 
  • The Senate confirmed Loretta Lynch's long-delayed nomination Thursday, giving the country its first female African American attorney general. Read more

BUDGET, ECONOMY & FINANCE

  • Deutsche Bank will pay a record $2.5 billion in fines and fire several top employees to settle government charges it conspired to manipulate key benchmark interest rates. Read more
  • Public transportation advocates are asking Congress to spend an extra $12 billion per year on the nation's transit systems as lawmakers are struggling to come up with a way to pay for a new round of infrastructure funding. Read more

FOREIGN AFFAIRS & DEFENSE

  • The leader of the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday denied that his panel is dragging out its investigation to damage Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. Read more
  • A bipartisan group of House Armed Services Committee members on Wednesday pleaded for the panel's leaders to save the A-10 "Warthog" fleet in this year's defense policy bill. Read more
  • House appropriators on Wednesday advanced a $77 billion bill funding military construction projects and veterans' benefits. Read more

 HEALTH CARE 

  • A bipartisan bill to help health insurance companies avoid fees under ObamaCare is now backed by a majority of House lawmakers, its sponsors announced Wednesday. Read more
  • The acting head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Monday that the agency is moving "full speed ahead" with its efforts to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes. Read more

MEETINGS

June 17, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Codex Alimentarius Commission: Meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission  
SUMMARY: The Office of the Under Secretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is sponsoring a public meeting on June 17, 2015. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09387.htm 

MARKETING

April 27, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Irish Potatoes Grown in Colorado and Imported Irish Potatoes; Relaxation of the Handling Regulation for Area No. 2 and Import Regulations  
SUMMARY: This rule revises the minimum quantity exception for potatoes
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09289.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Avocados Grown in South Florida and Imported Avocados; Change in Maturity Requirements 
SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is adopting, as a final rule, without change, an interim rule that changed the maturity requirements prescribed under the Florida avocado marketing order (order) and avocado import regulation.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09287.htm 

May 4-26, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Cranberries Grown in States of Massachusetts, et. al.; Continuance Referendum  
SUMMARY: This document directs that a referendum be conducted among eligible producers of cranberries grown in the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Long Island in the State of New York, to determine whether they favor continuance of the marketing order regulating the handling of cranberries grown in the production area.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09291.htm 

May 7, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Cranberries Grown in States of Massachusetts, et al.; Revising Determination of Sales History  
SUMMARY: This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the Cranberry Marketing Committee (Committee) to revise the determination of sales history provisions currently prescribed under the cranberry marketing order (order).
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09291.htm 

May 22, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Honey Packers and Importers Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Information Order; Assessment Rate Increase  
SUMMARY: This rule amends the Honey Packers and Importers Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Information Order (Order) to increase the assessment rate from $0.01 per pound to $0.015 per pound on honey and honey products, over a two-year period.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09292.htm 

FOOD SAFETY

May 26, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Importation of Apples From China 
SUMMARY: We are amending the fruits and vegetables regulations to allow the importation of fresh apples (Malus pumila) from China into the continental United States.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-23/html/2015-09508.htm 

June 22, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Notice of Availability of a Treatment Evaluation Document; Hot Water Treatment of Oversized Mangoes  
SUMMARY: We are advising the public that we have determined that it is necessary to amend hot water treatment schedule T102-a in the Plant Protection and Quarantine Treatment Manual to extend the applicability of the treatment to additional mango commodities.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-23/html/2015-09468.htm 

OTHER ITEMS

March 19, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 
E. & J. Gallo Winery; Filing of Color Additive Petition  
SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is announcing that we have filed a petition, submitted by E. & J. Gallo Winery, proposing that the color additive regulations be amended to provide for the safe use of mica-based pearlescent pigments as color additives in certain distilled spirits.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09248.htm 

April 22, 2015
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY  
Saflufenacil; Pesticide Tolerances  
SUMMARY: This regulation establishes tolerances for residues of saflufenacil in or on alfalfa, forage and alfalfa, hay.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09394.htm 

May 22, 2015
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY  
Receipt of Several Pesticide Petitions Filed for Residues of Pesticide Chemicals in or on Various Commodities  
SUMMARY: This document announces the Agency's receipt of several initial filings of pesticide petitions requesting the establishment or modification of regulations for residues of pesticide chemicals in or on various commodities.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-22/html/2015-09209.htm 

June 22, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
National Agricultural Library Agricultural Research Service Notice of Intent To Request an Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations at 5 CFR part 1320 (60 FR 44978, August 29, 1995), this notice announces the Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) intention to request an extension of a currently approved information collection, Information Collection For Document Delivery Services at the National Agricultural Library (NAL), that expires October 31, 2015. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-23/html/2015-09475.htm 

Call for Comments

IFT calls for comments on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  For details please refer to http://www.ift.org/public-policy-and-regulations/advocacy/ift-comments/call-for-comments.aspx.