Public Meetings, Congressional Hearings, Calls for Comments

During the August recess, the Food and Agriculture Newsletter will be distributed on a bi-weekly basis.

FOOD & AGRICULTURE

  • Congress broke for the August recess last Friday and won't be back in the Capitol until Sept. 8. One of the many pieces of legislative business left at a standstill is the Fiscal Year 2015 agriculture appropriations bill. Read more
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack provides a six-month update on Farm Bill implementation progress. Read more
  • Tom Vilsack said that USDA's new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which brings together businesses, tribes, communities and other non-government partners to invest in conservation efforts, has drawn an overwhelming response from partners across the nation. Read more
  • Participation in the U.S. government food-stamp program is declining modestly as low-income Americans get some economic reprieve. Read more
  • Starting this week, "gluten-free" labels on packaged foods have real meaning. Until now, the term "gluten-free" had not been regulated, and manufacturers made their own decisions about what it means. Read more
  • The National Milk Producers Federation wants the FDA to fix a problem in the planned definition of added sugars on food labels, saying it appears to include dairy products used as food ingredients, even though the lactose - or "milk sugar" - in those products occurs naturally. Read more
  • National wildlife refuges around the country are phasing out genetically modified crops and a class of pesticides related to nicotine in programs meant to provide food for wildlife. Read more
  • According to the global food source monitoring company Food Sentry, the U.S. was one of the top 10 countries with the most food safety violations in 2013. Read more
  • Federal officials hope a massive effort to remove silt and sand deposits from the bed of the Mississippi River in Minnesota will have cleared a path for hundreds of tied-up barges carrying millions of dollars in cargo to resume their trips downstream over the weekend. Read more
  • California Governor Jerry Brown called on lawmakers to put a $6 billion "no-frills" bond measure on the November ballot, about half the size of a pending proposal, to secure the water supply amid a record drought. Read more
  • Ben & Jerry's GMO Food Fight
  • Subway, seeking to amplify its long-successful message of offering food that's more healthful than that of other quick service restaurants, has launched a new ad campaign highlighting the wide variety of vegetables guests can put in their sandwiches. Read more
  • The battle over mandatory labeling of biotechnology-derived food has reached a boil. Read more
  • Zoetis Inc, the world's largest animal-health company, plans to seek U.S. approval before the end of this year to sell its vaccine against a virus that has killed about 13 percent of the U.S. hog herd. Read more
  • Baconholics Undeterred by Pig Prices at 30-Year High. Read more
  • The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued some food safety recommendations for the state of Hawaii due to the forecast for severe weather conditions related to Hurricanes Iselle and Julio. Read more 
  • The USDA is seeking public input concerning a proposal to provide more information to the public about the amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits used by participants at individual grocery stores and retailers. Read more
  • The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo announced over the weekend that USDA's National Farmers Market Directory now lists 8,268 markets, an increase of 76 percent since 2008. Read more
  • The USDA has issued a final rule eliminating the restrictions on including mature market wood products and other materials in the BioPreferred program. Read more
  • This week, Tom Vilsack joined President Obama, members of Congress and other U.S. government officials to welcome African heads of state and government leaders for the first-ever Africa Leaders Summit. At the Summit, Vilsack announced four new partners in the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative and up to $1 billion in export credit guarantees that will enhance trade between the U.S. and Africa. Read more
  • Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Forest Service will award more than $14 million in funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to seven Forest Legacy Program projects aimed at protecting over 28,000 acres of working forests. Read more
  • Tom Vilsack made the following statement on the retirement of USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan M. Garcia. Read more
  • Tom Vilsack said that the Department of Agriculture will partner with nine State agencies and with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation to increase recreational and economic opportunities on private lands. Funding is provided through USDA's Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Read more

TRADE & INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURE NEWS

  • Russia will ban all imports of food from the United States and all fruit and vegetables from Europe, the state news agency reported on Wednesday, a sweeping response to Western sanctions imposed over its support for rebels in Ukraine. Read more
  • Russia's ban on many western food products presents a massive opportunity for meat and grain exports from agricultural powerhouse Brazil and a smaller one for its Latin American neighbors. Read more
  • Senior agricultural experts from all 28 European Union countries will hold an emergency meeting next Thursday to analyse the impact of a Russian ban on EU food imports, the European Commission said on Friday. Read more
  • Global food prices fell to a six-month low in July as costs for grain tumbled on prospects for ample harvests, the United Nations said. Read more
  • The Canadian government will require the country's two big railways to ship more than the current minimum of 1 million tonnes of crops a week through the autumn harvest as it tries to prevent a repeat of last season's backlog. Read more
  • Fast food ambitions in China hurt by safety scares. Read more
  • It's been a 14-month drought of sorts for California citrus growers unable to export fruit to China due to Phytophthora root rot disease found in some imported samples at Chinese ports. With California Phytophthora standards now in place to eliminate the problem, China's doors were back open Aug. 5 for California citrus imports. Read more
  • Secretary of State John Kerry urged the U.S. and Africa to engage in "climate-smart agriculture" to make fisheries and farms more resilient. Read more
  • Russia's threatened ban on U.S. poultry imports, the latest move in a sanctions skirmish over Moscow's support of rebels in Ukraine, has agriculture companies alert to the risks of a conflict that's already roiled trading of crops ranging from soy, beef and fruit to California pistachios. Read more
  • Japanese abandoning farm lands. Read more
  • The National Pork Producers Council weighed in on two important trade matters, insisting that U.S. trade negotiators get from Japan a deal on pork similar to the one the United States got from South Korea and urging lawmakers to exclude South Africa from a U.S. preferential trade measure. Read more
  • Iron Giants Graze Cows at Australia Ranches to Feed China. Read more
  • The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. international trade deficit decreased 7.0 percent in June from May, to $41.5 billion, the lowest level since January. Read more
  • View Ambassador Michael Froman remarks at the 2014 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum Ministerial.
  • The United States and the Economic Community of West African States Sign Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. Read more
  • U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman Announces U.S. Victory in Challenge to China's Rare Earth Export Restraints. Read more

USDA REPORTS

WHITE HOUSE

  • Obama pledged at the U.S.-Africa Summit a $33 billion investment in Africa from public and private business, playing catch-up with China.
  • The White House is forcefully defending Israel, placing the blame for the civilian death toll in Gaza on Hamas.
  • Obama is signing a $16.3 billion plan to improve health care for veterans. Following reports of long wait times at VA hospitals, the plan will make funds available for more doctors and nurses.
  • Human rights groups criticized Obama about the U.S.-Africa Summit's lack of attention to oppression and abuse by some of the African heads of state in attendance.

CONGRESS

  • The House approved a $694 million border bill, but with the Senate on recess and unable to vote on it, the Homeland Security Department is shifting $405 million to deal with the problem in the meantime.
  • There's just 12 days on the calendar in September for Congress to get a big To Do list done.

POLITICS

  • Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander wins Republican primary. Read more
  • Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) is dropping his Senate campaign in the wake of a plagiarism scandal, giving Republicans an even bigger edge in the critical open-seat race. Read more
  • Democrats are ditching the "War on Women" rhetoric that helped them defeat Mitt Romney in 2012 in favor of talking specifics about women's reproductive rights and the gender pay gap.
  • Hurricanes are threatening Hawaii's Aug. 9 primary, which has the state's governor up for reelection as well as U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz defending his seat from challenger Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Schatz was appointed to the position by the governor after Sen. Daniel Inouye died.
  • On Aug. 12, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Wisconsin

hold their primary elections.

BUDGET & ECONOMY

  • The Labor Department reports that employers added 209,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls last month, while unemployment ticked up slightly, to 6.2 percent,failing to meet economists' projections of 233,000 positions and 6.1 percent unemployment. Read more 
  • President Obama called on Congress to end corporate tax inversions, the practice of moving headquarters abroad to evade high U.S. taxes. The Treasury Department is looking at taking some action now to stem the flood of companies overseas. Walgreen executives announced this week that they will stay in the U.S., citing concerns of political backlash and a potential legal battle with the IRS. Read more
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 22.2 percent of American workers were age 55 or over-the largest share since recordkeeping began in 1948. Read more

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

  • The Pentagon said Friday it launched an airstrike against Islamic militants in northern Iraq Friday, hours after President Obama authorized American air strikes against the rebels and humanitarian drops to aid refugees. Read more
  • Government officials have concluded-as some have suspected for months-that  at least one other individual is leaking national security information to the media. Read more
  • The Pentagon is boosting its aid to Ukraine, giving $8 million in equipment as Defense Department officials are also proposing to help train Ukrainian soldiers. Read more

HEALTH CARE

  • ACA enrollees who keep their existing plans could face some of the biggest premium spikes. Read more
  • The World Health Organization said it will convene medical ethics experts next week to address the implications of making the drugs used to treat the two Americans infected with the virus more widely available. Read more

FOOD SAFETY

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection; Committee Renewal  
SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to renew the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI). 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-06/html/2014-18523.htm 

October 3, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES  
Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Food and Drug Administration Recall Regulations  
SUMMARY: The FDA is announcing an opportunity for public comment on the proposed collection of certain information by the Agency. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (the PRA), Federal Agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information including each proposed extension of an existing collection of information, and to allow 60 days for public comment in response to the notice. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-04/html/2014-18322.htm 

October 6, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Notice of Request for Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Eggplant from Israel  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request an extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the importation of eggplant from Israel into the continental United States. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-05/html/2014-18529.htm 

MEETINGS

August 20, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR  
Notice of Meeting, Front Range Resource Advisory Council SUMMARY: In accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Front Range Resource Advisory Council (RAC), will meet as indicated below.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-07/html/2014-18667.htm 

MARKETING

August 7, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Irish Potatoes Grown in Certain Designated Counties in Idaho, and Malheur County, Oregon; Modification of Container Requirements  
SUMMARY: This rule modifies the container requirements currently prescribed under the Idaho-Eastern Oregon potato marketing order (order). 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-06/html/2014-18606.htm 

OTHER ITEMS

July 28, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Food and Nutrition Service Request for Information: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Retailer Transaction Data  
SUMMARY: In light of a recent court decision regarding the availability of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailer transaction data to the public, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is issuing this Request for Information to help inform FNS' response to the recent court decision and any future policy changes regarding the release of SNAP retailer transaction data.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-04/html/2014-18288.htm 

August 4, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request August 4, 2014. 
 The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-08/html/2014-18727.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request August 4, 2014. 
The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-08/html/2014-18729.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request August 4, 2014. 
The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-08/html/2014-18731.htm 

August 5, 2014
INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION 
Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public Interest  
SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade Commission has received a complaint entitled Certain Beverage Brewing Capsules, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same, DN 3026.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-08/html/2014-18760.htm 

August 6, 2014
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY  
Product Cancellation Order for Certain Pesticide Registrations
SUMMARY: This notice announces EPA's order for the cancellations, voluntarily requested by the registrants and accepted by the Agency, of the products listed in Table 1 of Unit II., pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-06/html/2014-18222.htm

August 7, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE  
Fresh Garlic From the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Antidumping Duty New Shipper Review; 2013-2014 
SUMMARY: On May 21, 2014, the Department received a timely request for NSR from Jinxiang Kaihua Imp & Exp Co., Ltd. (Kaihua), in accordance with section 751(a)(2)(B)(i) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), and 19 CFR 351.214(c). 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-07/html/2014-18708.htm 

August 8, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Cotton Transition Assistance Program and General Provisions for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs  
SUMMARY: This rule implements the new Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill).
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-08/html/2014-18719.htm 

September 5, 2014
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY  
Notice of Receipt of Requests to Voluntarily Cancel Certain Pesticide Registrations  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA is issuing a notice of receipt of requests by registrants to voluntarily cancel certain pesticide registrations.  
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-06/html/2014-18477.htm 

October 6, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Notice of Request for Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Virus-Serum-Toxin Act and Regulations  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request an extension of approval of an information collection associated with the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act and regulations.  
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-05/html/2014-18530.htm 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 
Bifenazate; Pesticide Tolerances  
SUMMARY: This regulation establishes tolerances for residues of bifenazate in or on multiple commodities which are identified and discussed later in this document including tolerances with regional restrictions for timothy hay and timothy forage. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-06/html/2014-18041.htm 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY   
Fluopicolide; Pesticide Tolerances 
SUMMARY: This regulation amends tolerances for residues of fluopicolide in or on potato, processed potato waste; and vegetable, tuberous and corm, subgroup 1C. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-06/html/2014-18458.htm 

January 1, 2015
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY  
Product Cancellation Order for Certain Rodenticide Registrations
SUMMARY: This notice announces EPA's order for the cancellations, voluntarily requested by the registrant and accepted by the Agency, of certain rodenticide products containing the pesticide active ingredients brodifacoum, difethialone and warfarin, pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-06/html/2014-18361.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.