Agriculture & Agribusiness

2020 Dietary Guidelines Near the End of Stage One

On Wednesday, June 16, 2020, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) hosted a public meeting to review their draft scientific report. A new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is published every 5-years and developed in three stages: (I) Reviewing the science; (II) developing the guidelines; (III) implementation. The most recent meeting marks the …

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QHC for Cranberry Products and Reduced Risk of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection in Healthy Women

FDA has published a letter of enforcement discretion, which it sent to legal counsel for Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., that authorizes a qualified health claim (QHC) for specific cranberry products when consumed in specific amounts by specific people. The substantiation for the diet-disease relationship warranted a “limited and inconsistent” or “limited” scientific evidence qualifier. Based on …

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Policy Solutions to Climate Change through Agriculture and Forestry

The coronavirus has dominated the news cycle over the last five months and has disrupted nearly every industry, particularly agriculture and forestry. Leaders, innovators, and policymakers in these fields are looking for solutions that will mitigate future supply chain disruptions like the ones experienced due to the coronavirus. Therefore, it is not surprising that climate …

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The History and Value of School Lunches

The Beginning The National School Lunch Program operates in 100,000 schools and is available to approximately 50 million children. We have all grown up with lunch in school, and perhaps breakfast too. But it was not always this way. School meal programs have been developing in the United States since the 19th century. As states began …

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COVID-19 and the Need for International Food Aid – A Growing Body of Evidence

“So today, with COVID-19, I want to stress that we are not only facing a global health pandemic but also a global humanitarian catastrophe. Millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the specter of famine a very real and dangerous possibility.” David …

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Cows relaxing in the meadow

COVID-19 Webinar: Federal Regulatory Changes Impacting the Food Industry – Recording Available

On April 22, OFW Principal John Dillard presented a webinar addressing the federal regulatory changes that have been implemented to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar also discussed guidance from USDA, FDA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Center for Disease Control as well as some of the best practices that have been …

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Hands holding towel and disinfectant

New Policies Released by the EPA Today in Response to the COVID-19 Health Crisis

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two policy statements as a part of the Administration’s COVID-19 response. First, the EPA furthered its commitment to expediting the registration process for new surface disinfectant products. The EPA also announced an enforcement discretion policy under which the Agency will not seek penalties for certain civil violations related …

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Fresh produce sold at a market by farmer

Food and Agriculture in the Phase 3 Coronavirus Bill

By Julia Johnson Food and agriculture continues to be a priority for Congress and the Administration as the government tackles the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. After tense negotiations, the Senate passed a third stimulus bill late last night. Here is what is in it for food and agriculture. Before the second coronavirus stimulus …

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Young woman in medical mask in grocery store because of Covid 19

Food Security is National Security in a Time of Crisis – Phase One and Phase Two Coronavirus Stimulus Bills

By Julia Johnson The Coronavirus Pandemic has dramatically changed life as we know it in the United States. Government from the local to the federal level, the private sector, and non-profit organizations alike are practicing unprecedented levels of partnership and cooperation to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, or COVID-19. Recent bills passed by Congress and …

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Milk spilt on wood table

Oh, SNAP! FNS Still Hasn’t Released Its FY 2019 SNAP Retailer Management Summary

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has oversight over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The agency’s responsibilities include the licensing of more than 250,000 SNAP-authorized retail food stores. FNS also is authorized to bring administrative enforcement proceedings, including trafficking charges, against SNAP retailers to prevent fraud and other problem violations.  FNS publishes annual data …

Oh, SNAP! FNS Still Hasn’t Released Its FY 2019 SNAP Retailer Management Summary Read More »

Cannabis with black backdrop

The Cannabis Industry’s Own Private Idaho: State Court Upholds Seizure of Truckload of Hemp Bound for Colorado

Big Sky Scientific is a Montana-based manufacturer of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products, including isolate powders, oils, and distillates.  Big Sky sources its products from hemp producers, including in Oregon.  During late 2018, it purchased more than two tons of hemp plant material containing less than 0.3% THC from an Oregon producer and arranged for its …

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Shredding files

Oh SNAP! FNS Removes All Names from the SAM List

GSA’s System for Award Management is a comprehensive database of persons excluded from doing business with the federal government.  Widely known as the SAM List, most of the people whose names can be found there were debarred or suspended from doing business with the federal government.  Debarment and suspension are serious sanctions that prevent persons …

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Judge slams gavel

Oh, SNAP! Federal District Court Judge Orders FNS to Remove Owner of SNAP Retailer’s Name from the SAM List

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Not surprisingly, that means that FNS is required to follow regulations and guidance issued by USDA.  This fundamental concept appears to have been forgotten at FNS, at least in the context of the agency’s decision to list the names …

Oh, SNAP! Federal District Court Judge Orders FNS to Remove Owner of SNAP Retailer’s Name from the SAM List Read More »

Supreme Court Building of the United States

Oh, SNAP! The Supreme Court Holds Store Level SNAP Redemption Data is Confidential Under FOIA Exemption 4

In a major victory for grocers, the United States Supreme Court (in a 6-3 decision) held that store level SNAP retailer data is exempt from disclosure under Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). Exemption 4 precludes the disclosure of “commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.”  5 …

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Farmer walks through lettuce farm

Crop Insurance Arbitration: Navigating the Landmines

Two years ago, a Kentucky farmer won an unusual $640,000 arbitration award against his Federal crop insurance AIP (approved insurance provider).  During the arbitration, the farmer presented evidence to prove that the AIP had mishandled his policy, leaving the farm unprotected for two major crop losses. In one case, the AIP’s agent had placed the …

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Farm with stormy clouds above

FARMERS: Yes, heavy spring rains can affect your FCIC crop insurance coverage.

It’s no secret that weeks of heavy rain and snow melt have wreaked havoc with farm operations across the Midwest this spring.  Sixty tornadoes hit the lower plains last weekend alone, and rivers in some areas are cresting at levels not seen since the catastrophic floods of 1993.  April and May are prime planting months …

FARMERS: Yes, heavy spring rains can affect your FCIC crop insurance coverage. Read More »

Little boy finishes meal

Child Nutrition Reauthorization Moves Forward

Reauthorization of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has been stalled since 2015.  Even though the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee reported their respective bills, the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 (S. 3136) and the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. …

Child Nutrition Reauthorization Moves Forward Read More »

Judge hits gavel on table

Play It Again SAM: Federal Judge Orders FNS to Remove Owner of Disqualified SNAP Retailer from SAM List

Owners of supermarkets and convenience stores are generally not aware that one of the perils of participating in the SNAP program may be placement on the General Services Administration’s System for Award Management list of excluded and disqualified parties (“SAM List”).  That’s true because few retailers have heard of the SAM List and because USDA’s …

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Measuring tape on white table

Opinion: The Obesity Equation Calories in; Calories Out

During this Holiday Season, we all enjoy those extra calories and special desserts. It is part of giving thanks and enjoying family. There is no need to give that up, but let’s also keep an eye on the obesity equation. Food labeling regulations and guidelines, such as the USDA- HHS Dietary Guidelines for for Americans, are …

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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program logo

Disqualified from SNAP? SAM I Am!

Owners of retail food stores permanently disqualified from participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are saddled with serious consequences in addition to the loss of the store’s ability to accept food stamp benefits (EBT). After USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) permanently disqualifies a store, the agency promptly searches its SNAP retailer database …

Disqualified from SNAP? SAM I Am! Read More »

Monetary penalty

SNAP Trafficking and Other Civil Monetary Penalties Edge Higher

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) may impose civil monetary penalties (CMP) on retailers that are determined to have violated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations.  These penalties are most frequently imposed against SNAP retailers who transfer ownership of their stores after being disqualified for trafficking.  FNS may also grant a CMP in lieu of …

SNAP Trafficking and Other Civil Monetary Penalties Edge Higher Read More »

The sun sets over a field of crops

Federal Crop Insurance AIPs: Some Misconceptions about Underwriting Gains

Debate over the 2018 Farm Bill, likely to start in earnest this week with House consideration of H.R. 2, may focus sharp attention on the question of whether taxpayer costs for Federal Crop Insurance are reasonable and supportable.  At least five amendments filed for floor consideration are intended to limit these costs in different ways. …

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Woman selecting hot food at supermarket

Selling Too Much Food Hot? SNAP-Authorized You’re Not!

Small grocery stores and specialty retail food stores that sell hot foods are facing an unprecedented threat to their businesses.  Not from competition or due to rising costs.  Instead, thousands of small fish and seafood markets in impoverished urban neighborhoods across the country are threatened with the withdrawal of their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) …

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Judge's gavel on American flag

Oh, SNAP! Maryland Federal Court Judge Enters Summary Judgment Against Baltimore Food Stamp Retailer Without Permitting Any Discovery

In a highly unusual decision, a Federal District Court judge in Maryland granted summary judgment in a food stamp licensing appeal brought by a Baltimore convenience store without permitting the retailer to conduct any discovery whatsoever.  In Negash v. United States, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Bennett dismissed the retailer’s appeal of a Final Agency …

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Tomato injected with growth hormones

How the Federal Government Can Get Biotech Regulation Right

By Nina Fedoroff and Alison Van Eenennaam, as published in the Des Moines Register In his speech at the recent American Farm Bureau convention, President Trump said his administration was “streamlining regulations that have blocked cutting-edge biotechnology.” Why is this necessary?  Paraphrasing New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s words on economic policy, it’s because we’re still living with “zombie” biotech …

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Food drive called "Stamp Out Hunger"

Variety May Be the Spice of Life, But Not as Much as the Food and Nutrition Service Would Like in the Food Stamp Program

Congress Bars FNS from Enforcing Portions of its Enhancing Retailer Standards in SNAP Final Rule Federal agencies are viewed by many as possessing immense power over regulated businesses.  This is especially true at the Food and Nutrition Service (“FNS”) in the context of retail food stores that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), …

Variety May Be the Spice of Life, But Not as Much as the Food and Nutrition Service Would Like in the Food Stamp Program Read More »

Farmer riding a tractor

Top Priority for the 2018 Farm Bill: Protect Federal Crop Insurance

Of all the issues surrounding a new Farm Bill in 2018, perhaps none unifies American agricultural producers more than Federal Crop Insurance, provided by USDA’s Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC).  Be it North or South, big or small, row crops or specialty, organic or conventional, the FCIC crop insurance program is today viewed almost universally …

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Bottle of milk

“Milk” Comes from Breasts/Udders

According to the Wall Street Journal: “Organic milk sales have cooled as the very shoppers who drove demand for the specialty product not long ago move on to newer alternatives, leaving dairy sellers and producers grappling with oversupply….Now, organic-milk supplies have ballooned just as demand has stalled.  Many shoppers have moved on to substitutes such …

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Assortment of dog food

FSMA Update: FDA Releases Guidance Documents on CGMP Requirements of Animal Food Rule and Exemptions from FSMA Requirements of Human and Animal Food Rules

On October 19, 2017, FDA announced the publication of two guidance documents to assist industry stakeholders in compliance with regulations promulgated pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): #235 – Current Good Manufacturing Practice Requirements for Food for Animals; Final Guidance for Industry; Application of the “Solely Engaged” Exemptions in Parts 117 and 507: …

FSMA Update: FDA Releases Guidance Documents on CGMP Requirements of Animal Food Rule and Exemptions from FSMA Requirements of Human and Animal Food Rules Read More »

African woman farming by herself

Bob Dole and Marshall Matz: Private Sector Distribution System is Missing Link in Food Security

By Senator Bob Dole and Marshall Matz, as published in The Des Moines Register The World Food Prize Foundation, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is again focusing attention on food security by honoring Dr. Akin Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank. With a PhD in agriculture from Purdue, Dr. Adesina is the first “aggie” …

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Biotech scientist testing chemicals

Biotech Regulations Must be Based on Facts, Not Fears

By Dr. Nina Fedoroff, as published in Agri-Pulse The Coordinated Framework (CF) for the Regulation of Biotechnology was first implemented 30 years ago. The CF was developed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). OSTP brought together representatives of the three federal agencies seeking to regulate commercial applications of biotechnology to …

Biotech Regulations Must be Based on Facts, Not Fears Read More »

Wheat Agriculture

Trade is Key for Agriculture

By Senator Bob Dole and Marshall Matz, as published in Agri-Pulse Perhaps no sector of the American economy is more dependent on trade than agriculture. It is the life blood of the heartland supporting over 15 million jobs throughout the United States. Our economy is so large, however, that the importance of agriculture is frequently overlooked. …

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Chemical lab testing

SNAP Wars: Scott Walker, Tom Vilsack and Drug Testing of SNAP Beneficiaries

For more than 20 years, Federal law has expressly provided that states may test welfare recipients for use of controlled substances free from interference of federal agencies. 21 U.S.C. §862(b).  Relying upon this Congressional enactment, Wisconsin passed Act 55 during 2015.  Act 55 authorized new drug screening and testing requirements for certain SNAP beneficiaries in …

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