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Congress extends Packers and Stockyards Act regulations to online and video auctions; FDA considering new ‘health’ foods definition; producers encouraged to save money for disasters; contact legislative leaders.
October 10, 2016
Before leaving for its October recess, Congress passed legislation that extends Packers and Stockyards Act regulations to online and video auctions that charge commissions or fees.
The legislation will provide protection to producers who sell online and ensure the use of electronic payment methods.
The bill authorizes the use of modern electronic payment methods, including debit and credit cards and the Automated Clearing House payments system.
Current law authorizes only the use of checks and wire transfers to settle livestock sales. President Obama is expected to approve the bill.
FDA considering new definition of ‘healthy’ foods
The Food and Drug Administration is considering new regulations for foods labeled “healthy.” This is to update nutrition labels to reflect the latest scientific information regarding fats, vitamins and minerals important to consumers.
The FDA is asking for public input on what “healthy” should mean and how consumers understand the term on food labels. The Grocery Manufacturers Association says, “Food and beverage manufacturers are committed to providing consumers with the information they need to make informed product choices so we welcome FDA’s plans to modernize the definition and clarify the use of the term “healthy’ on food labels.”
Tax-deferred disaster accounts for farmers
The Farm Risk Abatement and Mitigation Election Act, introduced by Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR), would allow producers to establish tax-deferred bank accounts, to incentivize them to save money for use in disasters instead of waiting on disaster declarations and waiting on the federal government for assistance.
Crawford says, “Farming is a risky business, and we don’t need to look any further than this past August for proof of that. From crop failure, changing markets, insect damage, unusual weather and natural disasters, producers’ livelihoods are threatened in many different ways.” The FRAME Act would give farmers the freedom to invest in a personal account dedicated to disaster relief. These accounts would work much like an IRA or Health Savings Accounts and would give farmers the option of investing. Producers would be eligible to contribute up to $50,000 per year to the account, deduct it from their income, and withdraw the money tax-free, with tax benefits capped at $250,000.
Contact your Congressman and Senators
Members of Congress will be traveling their states and districts for the next 29 days meeting with voters prior to the November election.
Now would be a perfect time to contact your Senators and Congressman and let them know issues that are critical to you including the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to U.S. agriculture, Waters of the United States rule, tax policy, etc.
Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.
Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.
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