President Barack Obama signed the Mandatory Price Reporting Reauthorization bill, which renews mandatory price reporting for beef, pork, and lamb, and adds dairy products for five years. The legislation modifies existing law by requiring Mandatory Reporting of Wholesale Pork (MRWP) cuts in order to expand transparency in the pork industry.
Agriculture vs. EPA — The issue of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations and initiatives on U.S. agriculture is getting more and more attention:
Senate Agriculture Committee: The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing to “Examine the Impact of EPA Regulation on Agriculture.” Senators of both parties raised concerns with EPA’s spray drift guidance, settling clean water act lawsuits, greenhouse gases, dust spreading, atrazine regulation, E-15 ethanol use, and phosphorus standards in water. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson if these new regulations would even benefit conservation or (did they) just hinder the lives of farmers? She also expressed concern that the EPA was not setting achievable goals for farmers and not providing them with the proper resources and tools needed for new compliance obligations and regulations. Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) complained of the nonstop regulatory assaults on agriculture and the effects on small producers.
• Congressional Members: A group of House of Representatives members met with EPA to discuss the application of laws under the agency’s jurisdiction to farmers, ranchers and small businesses. The members indicated that many of “today’s environmental programs are not only highly controversial in our districts, but are viewed as resulting in consequences and wide-ranging negative effects that were never anticipated or considered when the existing laws were passed.”
• Rural America Solutions Group: The Republican Rural America Solutions Group co-chaired by Congressmen Frank Lucas (R-OK), Sam Graves (R-MO), and Doc Hastings (R-WA) hosted a forum concerning the EPA’s regulations and initiatives that are hindering economic expansion in rural America.
Expected Decision on E15 Ethanol — Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson indicated to the Senate Agriculture Committee that the agency expects to receive the Department of Energy’s (DOE) study on higher ethanol blends for vehicles 2007 or newer in the very near future. Once the data is received, EPA expects to make a decision within two weeks on raising the ethanol blend rate to 15% from the current 10% rate on those model years. DOE’s study on higher blends for vehicles in model years 2001-2007 will not be completed until the end of November.
China Places Anti-Dumping Duties on U.S. Chicken Products — China’s Ministry of Commerce has announced it is imposing antidumping duties of 50.3 to 105.4% on chicken products from the United States for five years. According to the Ministry, China found that the U.S. chicken industry dumped poultry products on the Chinese market, negatively impacting domestic production. The initial Chinese investigation claimed the United States provides subsidized soybeans and corn to its poultry industry, thus negatively impacting Chinese producers.
Increased Penalties for Tainted Foods — The Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 3767, the “Food Safety Accountability Act,” which would increase penalties on companies and individuals who knowingly violate food safety standards. The legislation would increase penalties for distributing tainted food products; it establishes fines and prison sentences of up to 10 years for violations. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), sponsor of the bill, said, “This bill significantly increases the chances that those who commit food safety crimes will face jail time rather than a slap on the wrist for their criminal conduct.”
P. Scott Shearer