President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year ’16 $1.149 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that keeps the federal government funded through Sept. 30. The bill repeals the ban on exporting crude oil and limits the Environmental Protection Agency to the lowest funding level since 2008 and prevents funds for new or expanded EPA regulatory programs.
The 2,009-page bill includes various items important to agriculture but also failed to address certain issues. The following is a brief summary of some of the items included.
- COOL — repeals mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork. Labeling requirements remain for poultry and lamb.
- Animal research — $57 million is withheld from the Agricultural Research Service until the USDA certifies that the ARS has updated its animal care policies and improved practices at its animal research facilities. This is a result of the issues raised regarding the Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb.
- Dietary guidelines — Congress included language that says if the administration makes changes to the 2010 guidelines, they must be 1) “based on significant scientific agreement” and 2) “limited in scope to nutritional and dietary information” thus not sustainability. The USDA and Health & Human Services have announced the new rules will now be released in January.
- School meals — Continues the delay in further reduction in sodium limits and allows states to provide waivers to schools regarding whole grains requirements.
Items not included in the bill:
- WOTUS — The bill does not stop the administration from proceeding with enforcement of the Waters of the United States. The administration strongly opposed any provision regarding WOTUS.
- GMO labeling — Does not provide for a voluntary labeling program.