Category Archives Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced the availability of updated guidance on importing meat, poultry and eggs into the United States. According to the announcement, "FSIS revised and reorganized a section on industry supply chain best practices; clarified approaches to levels of reinspection; added information about generic labeling approvals, food defense, slaughter dates on import certification, and barcoding; and made minor editorial changes to improve the guidance's clarity." The announcement also directly responds to several comments received on the 2017 version of the guidance.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that it will provide an additional 30 days for public comments on the interim final rule (IFR) that established the Domestic Hemp Production Program. According to the announcement, "Comments are solicited from all stakeholders, notably those who were subject to the regulatory requirements of the IFR during the 2020 production cycle." The deadline for comments on the rule is October 8, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced a virtual public meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) on September 24-25, 2020. The objectives are "for the Committee to review and advise about the steps FSIS should take to ensure better control of artisanal, shelf-stable ready-to-eat (RTE) fermented, salt-cured, or dried products that rely on multiple hurdles for lethality" and to "review and advise whether the Agency should continue not to test boxed beef primal and sub-primal products for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), if they are intended for intact cuts." USDA also announced the appointment of 10 new members to NACMPI, as well as an additional member to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to "delay the issuance of a U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program final rule until 2022 and allow hemp growers and producers across the country and in Upstate New York to continue to operate under the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program regulations until that time." Schumer's press release includes the letter he sent to Secretary Perdue. "[A]s industrial hemp farmers and businesses explore the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, they have experienced serious difficulty integrating the Interim Final Rules into their operations. Particularly in the current COVID climate, I see many farmers and processors in New York struggle with incorporating these changes into the existing state Pilot Programs. In a time when farmers and producers struggle with economic uncertainty, the implementation of the Interim Final Rules will create costs without the support of offsetting revenues."…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting comments on the Agricultural Marketing Service's proposed amendments to organic regulations concerning oversight and enforcement of the production, handling and sale of organic agricultural products. The proposed rule would require the use of National Organic Program Import Certificates for all organic products entering the United States and "[r]educe the types of uncertified entities in the organic supply chain that operate without USDA oversight—including importers, brokers, and traders of organic products." The proposed amendment also contains provisions that would clarify "the method of calculating the percentage of organic ingredients in a multi-ingredient product" and "conditions for establishing, evaluating, and terminating equivalence determinations with foreign government organic programs, based on an evaluation of their organic foreign conformity systems." Comments will be accepted until October 5, 2020.

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accept comments on recommendations to update the List of Bioengineered Foods as it pertains to the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. Recommendations include the addition of sugarcane and an amendment to reflect that the only currently available trait for bioengineered summer squash is virus resistance. AMS also noted that it does not find cowpea or rice to qualify for addition to the list but is accepting comments on its assessment. Comments will be accepted until August 24, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the first print of the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which will be used to guide dietary recommendations. Changes include a reduced recommendation for the percentage of added sugars in an adult's diet and a section for children under two years old. The report also notes the effects of COVID-19 on its findings. "As more is learned about infection by SARS-Co V-2 and the development of COVID19, it is clear that it has significant nutritional implications. These parallel epidemics, one noninfectious ( obesity and diet-related chronic diseases) and one infectious (COVID-19), appear to be synergistic. Those at most risk for the most serious outcomes of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death, are people afflicted by diet-related chronic diseases (obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease). Finally, throughout the world, the…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a response to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's petition urging the agency to require meat and poultry processing plants to publish information about COVID-19 testing and infection rates at their facilities and to include on their product labels the statement "Warning: Workers in U.S. meat and poultry processing facilities have been sickened or killed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and this product has not been certified virus-free.” USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service states that it does not have the authority to require facilities to report on the health information of their workers. The agency's response further notes that the proposed warning statement "is misleading because it inaccurately implies that meat and poultry products that have not been 'certified as virus-free' may transmit COVID-19 or are somehow unsafe. As discussed above, public health and food safety experts have found no evidence to…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released a final rule updating regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The rule adjusts the regulatory process for specific GMOs created to combat plant pests that pose no increased plant pest risk than conventionally bred plants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a rule implementing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which was allocated $9.5 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability Act. CFAP provides financial support for agricultural producers affected by COVID-19 to help offset sales losses. The Farm Service Agency and Agricultural Marketing Service will implement the program, which is generally available to producers that “suffered a 5-percent-or-greater price loss over a specified time resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak” or “face additional significant marketing costs for inventories.”