USDA

Livestock & Meat Groups Want COOL Relief Pending WTO Review

On Monday, a group of trade associations representing the spectrum of America’s beef and pork production system issued an urgent plea to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Froman. The coalition wants USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to hold off on enforcing new country of origin labeling requirements until the …

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Judge Denies Attempt to Stop New COOL Rule

Opponents of USDA’s new mandatory Country-of-Origin-Labeling (mCOOL) rule received a setback this morning.  A federal judge denied the mCOOL opponents request for a preliminary injunction, which would have halted implementation of the new labeling rule pending ultimate resolution of whether the new mCOOL rule was lawful. Opponents of the mCOOL rule argued that the new mCOOL …

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Canada, Mexico Think U.S. Labeling Requirements are un-COOL

The United States has irked its neighbors with a meat labeling mandate that may have the effect of discriminating against Canadian and Mexican livestock.  The Canadian and Mexican governments believe that USDA’s new mandatory Country-of-Origin-Labeling (mCOOL) Rule is a thinly-veiled technical trade barrier that will be devastating to their respective livestock sectors, which are dependent …

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USDA’s National Appeals Division: A Checklist for Farmers

Farm producer and USDA program customers increasingly are turning to USDA’s National Appeals Division (NAD) as the best option when they find themselves facing an adverse decision from a USDA agency.   NAD offers a far quicker, more user-friendly, and more inexpensive way to get an objective “second opinion” compared with suing the agency in Federal …

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Reviewing Regulatory Noncompliance – It is Good For Your Business

Based on our experience reviewing a number of noncompliance records, we recommend that when USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documents regulatory noncompliance at your facility, you review it with a “fine tooth comb.”  To successfully review a noncompliance record (NR), you must first know your food safety programs and the governing regulations.  You …

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AMS Issues Final COOL Amendment

On May 23, 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) issued a final rule to amend the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations (which became effective March 16, 2009).  The final rule provides consumers more detailed information for muscle cut commodities by requiring that labels specify the production steps of …

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USDA is Right on Carrageenan

Kudos to Secretary Vilsack and USDA for basing their regulatory decisions on sound science.  Another recent example is the Proposed Rule published on May 3rd that would re-list carrageenan as appropriate for use in organic food products.  The USDA decision is consistent with a recent decision by FDA affirming the safety of carrageenan for all food products.   Moreover, …

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Bowman v. Monsanto: Supreme Court Confirms That Soybeans Do Not Grow Themselves, Affirms Seed Biotech Patent Rights

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a patent holder’s rights in biotech seeds extend to subsequent generations of crops grown by farmers.  Widely viewed as a victory for biotech seed producers and American farmers, the Court’s decision in Bowman v. Monsanto Co. should provide seed trait developers with the confidence that …

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New Obama Budget Includes Cuts for Federal Crop Insurance

Few Washington government programs escape un-cut in the new 2014 budget unveiled today by President Obama’s administration, and Federal crop insurance is no exception. 2012 saw Federal crop insurance emerge as the premier Federal backstop for American farm producers against natural disaster, paying over $16 billion in indemnities as farmers virtually nationwide faced historic drought …

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2012 Federal Crop Insurance Saved 20,900 Local Jobs in Four States

If anyone doubted the huge role that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Federal crop insurance program is playing this year in protecting rural America from economic disaster following last summer’s historic drought, a new study from two economists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln should settle the issue. USDA Federal crop insurance has paid over …

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Congress Clears Final Agriculture/FDA Spending Measure for FY 2013

The House of Representatives and Senate have now given final approval to the FY 2013 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill (the Bill) as part of a combined multi-Department omnibus measure, clearing it for the President’s expected signature.  The current Continuing Resolution expires on March 27, 2013.   The Bill …

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New AMS Proposed Rule for COOL Drives Meat Industry Mad

While most people are filling out their brackets for March Madness®, producers of muscle cuts of meat are dealing with a different type of “March Madness.”  On March 12, 2013, in response to a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that the current U.S. country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements for muscle cut meat discriminate against …

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School Nutrition Update

By Marshall L. Matz, as published in Agri-Pulse School nutrition is front and center these days. At the USDA Outlook Conference, Secretary Vilsack proudly pointed out the many improvements USDA has made to school nutrition programs as well as other nutrition programs. The National School Lunch Act (the Act), signed into law by President Truman in …

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USDA Ag Outlook Forum Tomorrow

Don’t miss our very own Ken Ackerman at the 2013 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum tomorrow, February 21, moderating the panel discussion on Managing Financial Risk in Agriculture.  Appearing with Ken will be: Juan Garcia, Administrator, Farm Service Agency, USDA Joel Nelsen, President, California Citrus Mutual, Exeter, California Denny Everson, President of Agriculture, Branch Administrator, First Dakota …

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Competitive Foods Rule

On February 8, 2013, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a proposed rule entitled “Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” (the proposed rule).  The proposed rule can be found here.  Public comments are invited …

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A Victory for Farmers

USDA’s National Appeals Division Upholds Farm Service Agency’s “Finality Rule” By Kenneth D. Ackerman Recently, we at OFW Law had the chance to help two Connecticut farmers win rulings from USDA’s National Appeals Division forcing the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to respect their rights under the Finality Rule, an important protection for farmers who participate in USDA programs.  Many farmers operate …

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Former USDA Official Janie Hipp Joins OFW Law as Of Counsel

We are pleased to announce that Janie Hipp, Esq., formerly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), will be joining OFW Law as Of Counsel.  Hipp is a nationally recognized expert on Indian Law, with a focus on agriculture and energy policy, who served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Please click the …

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What Should an Establishment Consider in Controlling Pathogenic STECs?

As the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) begins to conduct Food Safety Assessments (FSA) at beef slaughter establishments to verify controls for Pathogenic Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli (STEC), establishments should ensure that they have systems in place that are effective for pathogenic STEC.  Preventing contamination, effective use of interventions, and verification of the …

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Humane Society’s Middlegame: HSUS Files Complaint With USDA Inspector General Over Pork Board’s Use of Checkoff Dollars

It’s safe to say there is no love lost between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).  HSUS is the so-called animal rights organization devoted to ending modern animal agriculture. The NPPC is the voice of America’s hog farmers on policy and advocacy issues.  Needless to say, …

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Updated FSIS Guideline Refocuses Attention on Listeria Control

By Brett T. Schwemer, as published in the October 2012 issue of The National Provisioner. This summer, the focus of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has clearly been on the control of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli and Salmonella in certain raw meat or poultry products.  However, a recent FSIS Notice …

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