Legislative Action News, April 22, 2014

Printer Friendly
Bookmark and Share

Battle over biotech food labeling

In the battle over biotech food labeling…It’s tough to see an end anytime soon. In fact, both sides are stepping up the fight. Consumer groups demand labeling as a right. They want the food industry to say whether ingredients contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Copyright 2014. The Washington Kipliger Editors, Inc. Download the latest issue of Kiplinger Agriculture Letter.

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act

Congressman Pompeo (R-KS) along with Representatives Butterfield (D-NC), Matheson (D-UT), Blackburn (R-TN) and Whitfield (R-KY) introduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 (HR 4432) earlier this month. The bipartisan bill would put the labeling of foods and beverages made with biotech — or genetically modified (GM) — crops under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bill was referred to the House Committee and Energy and Commerce. It has broad support from a coalition of commodity and food industry groups.  The bill would require the FDA to study GM traits and, if the agency finds it necessary, it would require mandatory labeling of food found unsafe compared to non-GM products. Further, standards developed by the FDA would allow companies to voluntarily label their products. The bill is intended to provide a national standard for GMO labeling rather than labeling requirements that are State based. Vermont is the most recent state to take up a bill that would require GMO labeling requirements.

Sign-up Starts for USDA Disaster Programs

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) starting last week. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Enrollment also began last week for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). It provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss. Details are available from any local FSA office.

FSA Publishes Disaster Program Rule, Payment Limits and AGI Test

Prior to sign-up for the livestock disaster programs, the FSA published an interim final rule in the Federal Register last week that details the disaster programs as well as new commodity program payment limits and the new Adjusted Gross Income test for the commodity and livestock disaster assistance programs. The combined payment limit for ELAP, LFP and LIP is $125,000 per “entity” in 2014 and that applies to combined losses covering FY 2012 – 2014. TAP has a separate payment limit of $125,000. The rule also establishes the combined payment limit per entity of $125,000 for ARC, PLC and marketing loan assistance. A separate payment limit of $125,000 applies to peanuts. The cotton transition payment is limited to $40,000 per entity annually and NAP has a separate payment limit of $125,000 per entity.  Payment limits do not apply to the crop insurance program.

Effective for the 2014 and subsequent crop, program, and fiscal years, all commodity, price support, and disaster assistance program payments and benefits are subject to a rolling 3 year average AGI limitation of $900,000 per person or legal entity (average 2011, 2012 and 2013 for 2014 test). Entities with a 3 year average AGI exceeding $900,000 are not eligible.  This eligibility test does not apply to the crop insurance program.

The regulation can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-04-14/pdf/2014-08067.pdf 

First annual Agricultural Law Conference set for May 16

By David Bennett – Delta Farm Press – Looking for answers to legal agriculture-related legal issues in the Mid-South? If so, you should know that the first annual Agricultural Law Conference is kicking off on May 16 at Harrah’s Casino in Tunica, Miss. Continue reading: http://deltafarmpress.com/government/first-annual-agricultural-law-conference-set-may-16?NL=DFP-01&Issue=DFP-01_20140421_DFP-01_256&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1461457&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1

New farm bill: You’ll need to be better at managing risk

Hembree Brandon | Delta Farm Press – As you contemplate all the acronyms — ARC, PLC, STAX, etc. —and complexities of the new crop insurance-based farm legislation, Keith Coble has some cautionary advice for you: “Don’t get terribly wrapped up in thinking that these programs are going to keep you in business. Continue reading: http://deltafarmpress.com/management/new-farm-bill-you-ll-need-be-better-managing-risk?NL=DFP-01&Issue=DFP-01_20140415_DFP-01_785&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1460591&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1

Farm bill changes some farm loan programs

Farm Press Staff | Southeast Farm Press – The 2014 Farm Bill updates certain requirements and modifies several loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. Some loan changes took place immediately at passage of the bill. Here is an overview of farm bill loan program changes. Read more about farm bill changes to farm loan programs: http://southeastfarmpress.com/management/farm-bill-changes-some-farm-loan-programs?NL=SWFP-01&Issue=SWFP-01_20140421_SWFP-01_170&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1461453&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_3