Public Meetings, Congressional Hearings, Calls for Comments

FOOD & AGRICULTURE 

  • Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, announced the Committee will hold a hearing on opportunities and challenges for agriculture trade with Cuba. Read more
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday sent to the White House its controversial regulation to redefine the extent of its authority over water pollution control. Read more
  • While Congress threatens huge cuts in  funding for the country's safety net programs that keep or lift people out of poverty, new data released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) show that millions of Americans still struggle to afford enough food for their households. Read more
  • Politico reported that a federal appeals court's ruling Tuesday upholding the dismissal of a lawsuit over President Barack Obama's first major executive action to aid illegal immigrants could help the Obama administration fight a more significant suit that has resulted in Obama's second wave of immigration orders being halted nationwide. Read more
  • The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), will hold a legislative hearing on a discussion draft of the Toxic Substances Control Act Modernization Act next Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 10:15 a.m. in room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Read more
  • The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing on April 15 entitled, "Serving Students and Families through the Child Nutrition Program. Read more
  • House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers announced the Republican Members who will serve as Vice Chairs of the 12 Appropriations subcommittees for the 114th Congress. Read more
  • Minnesota, the top U.S. turkey producing state, has found two more commercial turkey flocks to be infected with a lethal strain of avian flu, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday. Read more
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a proposed rule to amend and improve its regulations on food facility registration. Read more
  • The Port of Portland may be losing another major container carrier, according to an OregonLive report. Hapag-Lloyd has not made an official announcement but it has stopped scheduling trips to Terminal 6 in Portland, as first reported by OregonLive. Read more
  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a drought emergency on Monday in three southern and central Oregon counties, expanding upon earlier drought declarations the Democrat made in March, as the state faces record low snowpack levels. Read more
  • Hilton Worldwide announced that it will begin to eliminate the use of cages for egg-laying chickens and gestation crates for breeding pigs in its global food supply chain. The announcement was made in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation's largest animal protection organization. Read more
  • HHS is seeking nominations of individuals who are interested in being considered for appointment to the Advisory Council. Read more
  • View the new USDA app that gives consumers food storage tips. 
  • The U.S. Forest Service announced that 1.45 million acres of America's forests and watersheds - an area larger than Delaware - are healthier as a result of collaborative partnerships to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Read more
  • The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced 21 grants totaling more than $10 million have been awarded to universities to support critical water problems in rural and agricultural watersheds across the United States. The awards were made through NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Water for Agriculture challenge area and the National Integrated Water Quality Program. Read more
  • Targeted conservation work in the Mississippi River basin will unite the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers and local organizations to help clean waterways that flow into the nation's largest river. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing $10 million this year in 27 new high-priority watersheds and 13 existing projects that will help improve water quality and strengthen agricultural operations. This investment is part of a commitment of $100 million over four years to address critical water quality concerns in priority watersheds while boosting rural economies. Read more
  • The USDA's Farm Service Agency announced that nearly 2,700 applicants will begin receiving disaster assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) for losses experienced from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014. Read more
  • The Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Interior designated as Sentinel Landscapes Fort Huachuca (Arizona) and Naval Air Station Patuxent River-Atlantic Test Ranges (Maryland). The 2nd and 3rd landscapes designated under the growing effort, the collaborative Sentinel Landscape Partnership supports efforts to promote working lands, protect wildlife habitat, and ensure military readiness at military bases across the country. Read more
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of over $9 million to expand and accelerate wood energy and other wood product markets. The federal funds will leverage $22 million in investments from partners, resulting in a total investment of $31 million in 23 states. Read more
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $73 million to be invested this year to rehabilitate and assess dams across the nation to ensure this critical infrastructure is protecting Americans from harm, securing public health and expanding water supplies in drought affected areas. Read more

 TRADE AND INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURE

  • The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to intervene in a cross-border trucking lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.Read more
  • Effective April 1, Scotland has established its own food safety agency, taking the responsibility of food safety regulation out from under the oversight of the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency. Read more
  • Food safety is so important to everyone around the world that the World Health Organization (WHO) dedicated this year's World Health Day - celebrated each year on April 7 - to spreading awareness of it. Read more
  • Japan and Taiwan have imposed trade restrictions on poultry and poultry products from Ontario, after bird flu was confirmed in the Canadian province, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said on Tuesday. Read more
  • Wheat output in India, the world's second-biggest grower, will miss a forecast for a near-record harvest this year after unseasonal rain and hailstorms damaged crop. Read more
  • The businessman at the centre of a Europe-wide fraud in which falsely labelled horsemeat led to thousands of tonnes of meat being recalled was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Tuesday. Read more
  • Almost a decade after the first country-of-origin labeling (COOL) of beef was required in Europe, no packaged unprocessed meat product may now be legally sold in any European Union member country without a label stating where the animal was reared and slaughtered. Europe's new law, effective April 1, covers fresh, chilled and frozen meat from sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. Read more
  • Three Chinese citizens are taking China's Ministry of Agriculture to court in a bid to make public a toxicology report supporting the approval of Monsanto's popular weedkiller, Roundup, 27 years ago. Read more
  • The head of Japan's powerful farming lobby group said on Thursday he will resign, amid a push by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to liberalize the agricultural sector and secure an Asia-Pacific regional free trade agreement. Read more

TRADE QUICK READ

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

  • USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said the administration is seeking congressional approval of a final TPP deal by the end of 2015 to avoid the 2016 election. Likely Democratic presidential candidate Fmr. Gov. Martin O'Malley recently came out against TPP.
  • A bipartisan group of 75 House members called on the administration to seek better market access for U.S. dairy products in Canada and Japan. Ambassador Darci Vetter, the chief agriculture negotiator for the U.S., said that Canada has "declined to seriously engage" in talks to open up its dairy, poultry and egg industries.
  • Ahead of Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe's April 28th visit to Washington, his cabinet submitted a bill that would weaken the power of the largest agriculture lobby, the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives. The head of the group, which actively organizes against TPP, resigned in protest.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

  • The ninth round of negotiations will take place in New York City from April 20th to 24th.
  • Ireland is seeking quotas in the importation of American beef, with a spokesman saying, "Full market liberalization will not apply to the beef sector."

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

  • The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee aim to introduce a compromise TPA bill after the Easter recess and hold a committee markup for the week of April 20th, though it remains unclear that staff-level talks over the break will result in a deal.
  • Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) signed a letter with six former Democratic National Committee chairs urging all Democrats to support TPA as part of a middle class agenda.
  • Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made the case for TPA from a national security perspective, saying that the deal would deepen alliances and partnerships abroad.

Cuba

  • Cuban President Raul Castro is attending the Summit of the Americas this week in Panama. It will be the first time Cuba has participated since the summit began in 1994. President Obama will also be attending, where it is likely he and Castro will discuss normalization.
  • The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold a hearing on the opportunities and challenges for agriculture trade with Cuba on April 21, 2015.

Immigration

  • The summit also comes after Obama requested $1 billion in his FY 2016 executive budget for investment in Central American countries after last summer's border crisis. 

USDA REPORTS

WHITE HOUSE

  • President Obama called Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker on Wednesday to outline his case for a nuclear deal with Iran that has entered the final stages of negotiations. Read more
  • President Obama is expected to speak with Cuban President Raúl Castro at this week's Summit of the Americas, the White House said Tuesday. Read more

CONGRESS

  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday announced that he'll seek the Republican nomination for president. Read more
  • California Rep. Lois Capps announced Wednesday she will not run for re-election. Read more

BUDGET, ECONOMY & FINANCE

  • The House will begin consideration of bills to fund the federal government when members return to Washington from the spring recess. Read more
  • The two Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees are returning to Capitol Hill early to discuss the differences between their two blueprints. Read more

FOREIGN AFFAIRS & DEFENSE

  • The White House is aggressively courting Sen. Bob Corker as it seeks to buy time for the final stretch of negotiations with Iran over a nuclear deal. Read more
  • Liberal Democrats have mounted a furious offensive to convince Senate Democrats to oppose legislation the White House Senate Democratic support is softening for a measure empowering Congress to review an Iran nuclear deal amid strong White House opposition. Read more
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday announced she will oppose legislation empowering Congress to review the White House's nuclear deal with Iran. Read more

 HEALTH CARE 

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday tapped Kevin Griffis to permanently serve as its top adviser on public affairs. Read more
  • President Obama was briefed Wednesday on the diminishing Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the first time the White House has publicly addressed the disease in several weeks. Read more 

MEETINGS

April 9, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE 
Economic Development Administration Notice of National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship Meeting  
SUMMARY: The National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) will hold a teleconference meeting on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 2:00--3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and will be open to the public. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08144.htm 

May 19, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR  
Notice of Public Meeting; Western Montana Resource Advisory Council  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA), the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Western Montana Resource Advisory Council (RAC) will meet as indicated below.  
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08141.htm 

May 27, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 
Food and Drug Administration Science Forum 2015; Public Workshop  
SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public workshop entitled "FDA Science Forum 2015.''
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08156.htm 

MARKETING

April 10, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
2015 Rates Charged for AMS Services  
SUMMARY: The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is announcing the 2015 rates it will charge voluntary grading, inspection, certification, auditing and laboratory services for a variety of agricultural commodities including meat and poultry, fruits and vegetables, eggs, dairy products, and cotton and tobacco.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08162.htm 

May 15, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
National Organic Standards Board (NOSB): Call for Nominations  
SUMMARY: The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was established to assist in the development of standards for substances to be used in organic production and to advise the Secretary on the implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA).
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08160.htm 

FOOD SAFETY

May 8, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Solicitation of Written Comments on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee; Extension of Comment Period  
SUMMARY: A notice was published in the Federal Register on Monday, February 23, 2015, Vol. 80, No. 35, pages 9465-9466 to announce the availability of the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Advisory Report) and to solicit written comments on the Advisory Report (among other things). 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-08/html/2015-08049.htm 

June 8, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Amendments to Registration of Food Facilities  
SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to amend its regulation for registration of food facilities that requires domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States to register with FDA.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08018.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request--School Breakfast Program  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this information collection.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08091.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Request for Administrative Review; Food Retailers and Wholesalers  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. This is a revision of a currently approved collection for SNAP, Request for Administrative Review.  
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08153.htm 

OTHER ITEMS

April 9, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Commodity Credit Corporation  Changes to Existing Conservation Program Regulations  
SUMMARY: The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Act) made several nondiscretionary changes to NRCS conservation programs.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-09/html/2015-08008.htm 

April 30, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Foreign Agricultural Service Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee; and the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees for Trade; Renewal and Nominations 
SUMMARY: Pursuant to Section 135 of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C 2155(c)(1)) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. Appendix 2), notice is hereby given that the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary), in coordination with the United States Trade Representative (USTR), intends to renew the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) for Trade and the six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs) for Trade.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-06/html/2015-07499.htm 

May 6, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Recovery Permit Applications  
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, invite the public to comment on the following applications to conduct activities intended to enhance the survival of target endangered or threatened species. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-06/html/2015-07714.htm 

May 8, 2015
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY  
Pesticide Experimental Use Permit; Receipt of Application; Comment Request  
SUMMARY: This notice announces EPA's receipt of an application 100-EUP- RRA from Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC requesting an experimental use permit (EUP) for the termiticide Altriset containing the active ingredient chlorantraniliprole. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-08/html/2015-07824.htm 

June 8, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Commodity Credit Corporation Notice of Funds Availability: Inviting Applications for the Emerging Markets Program SUMMARY: The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announces that it is inviting proposals for the 2016 Emerging Markets Program (EMP). 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-07/html/2015-07940.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Commodity Credit Corporation Notice of Funds Availability: Inviting Applications for the Market Access Program SUMMARY: The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announces that it is inviting proposals for the 2016 Market Access Program (MAP).
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-07/html/2015-07941.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Commodity Credit Corporation Notice of Funds Availability: Inviting Applications for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program Announcement Type: New. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.604. 
SUMMARY: The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announces that it is inviting proposals for the 2016 Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-07/html/2015-07934.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Commodity Credit Corporation Notice of Funds Availability: Inviting Applications for the Quality Samples Program Announcement Type: New. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.605. 
SUMMARY: The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announces it is inviting proposals for the 2016 Quality Samples Program (QSP).
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-07/html/2015-07935.htm 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Commodity Credit Corporation Notice of Funds Availability: Inviting Applications for the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program 
SUMMARY: The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announces that it is inviting proposals for the 2016 Foreign Market Development Cooperator (Cooperator) program.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-04-07/html/2015-07943.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.