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Commodity Communicator Weekly

March 15, 2013

BIOTECH DEREGULATION INCLUDED IN SENATE RESOLUTION. . . . .A provision related to the regulation of agriculture biotechnology was included in the Senate Continuing Resolution (CR), the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, introduced this week by Senate Appropriations Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)  The provision clarifies the secretary of agriculture’s authority to partially deregulate a biotechnology trait by introducing temporary stewardship requirements that allow farmers to continue to grow and harvest a crop that has previously been deemed safe and deregulated but is being challenged in court.

Farm Bureau supports the provision, which does not change the regulatory review process for biotechnology. Rather, the provision will make the regulatory process more predictable and give farmers who adopt safe, approved biotechnology assurance that their crop will not be at the mercy of lengthy legal challenges filed by activists. Moreover, it will codify an authority that was previously exercised by the Secretary of Agriculture for Roundup Ready sugarbeets and was reinforced by a Supreme Court Ruling for Roundup Ready alfalfa. AFBF has filed legal briefs and advocated in support of USDA’s regulatory decisions in both cases.

AG TRANSPORTATION EXEMPTIONS FINALIZED. . . . . Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) this week transmitted a Final Rule that will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, March 14.  This rule amends the federal regulations to reflect the statutory exemptions provided UNDER MAP-21 that are applicable to certain drivers transporting agricultural commodities.  States are to adopt compatible regulations as soon as possible after the effective date of this Final Rule (March 14, 2013), but no later than three years from the rule’s effective date.   

This action follows a Federal Register notice from FMCSA alerting motor carriers and enforcement officials of the two statutory exemptions in MAP-21.  Specifically, it provided a statutory exemption from the hours-of-service regulations for certain carriers transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies, and a statutory exemption from most of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for the operation of covered farm vehicles by farm and ranch operators, their employees, and certain other specified individuals under certain specific circumstances.  These statutory provisions were self-executing and took effect on Oct. 1, 2012.

. . . .Associated Press article. . . .A proposal to allow Arkansas dairy farmers to sell unpasteurized milk has failed to clear a House committee. The House Agriculture Committee on Friday voted 9-8 against the bill, which would have permitted the sale of "raw" goat and cow milk at the farm where it was produced. Farmers would have been allowed to sell up to 500 gallons per month on average. Republican Rep. Randy Alexander of Fayetteville sponsored the measure. He said that farmers should be able to sell unpasteurized milk on their farm as a matter of fundamental freedom. Others supporters said they wanted to buy local milk and have a stronger connection to where their food comes from. Opponents, including the state Health Department, said consuming unpasteurized milk could put consumers at greater risk for illness.

. . . . .Arkansas' two U.S. senators are part of a group who today introduced a bill to amend the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule and ease the regulatory compliance for farms.  

Click on the following ling to read the article:  Arkansas Matters - SPCC.

. . . . .The long national legalese nightmare in defining when and where a piece of meat originated will continue as USDA prepares to release a proposed new rule on Country of Origin Labeling in Monday's Federal Register.

The proposed rule changes come after a World Trade Organization appellate panel found last June that the U.S. meat-labeling law discriminated against imported livestock from Canada and Mexico.

Meat labeling in the United States is in its 11th year of being perfected after country-of-origin labeling, or "COOL," was originally passed into law with the 2002 farm bill. Due to funding freezes in Congress to block implementation of the labeling rule, it was not until the 2008 farm bill was passed that USDA actually began the implement the law. Canada and Mexico sued in the WTO quickly after.

. . . . .The United States Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico in the next two months, which would allow equine meat suitable for human consumption to be produced in the United States for the first time since 2007.

The plant, in Roswell, N.M., is owned by Valley Meat Company, which sued the USDA and its Food Safety and Inspection Service last fall over the lack of inspection services for horses going to slaughter. Horse meat cannot be processed for human consumption in the United States without inspection by the U.S.D.A., so horses destined for that purpose have been shipped to places like Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

USDA ANNOUNCES SUSPENSION OF REPORTS DUE TO SEQUESTER. . . . .This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would be forced to suspend certain reports from the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) due to cuts they are facing from the sequester.  Specifically, USDA announced suspension of the following survey reports:
•    All Catfish and Trout Reports including Catfish Feed Deliveries and Catfish Processing
•    July Cattle Report
•    Potato Stocks Reports
•    All Non-Citrus Fruit, Nut and Vegetable Forecasts and Estimates
•    June Rice Stocks Report
•    All Hops and Hops Stocks Estimates
•    Mink Report
•    Milk Production Reports including Production, Disposition and Income
•    June on- and off-farm stocks for Austrian Winter Peas, Chickpeas, Dry Peas and Lentils
•    July acreage forecasts for Austrian Winter Peas, Dry Edible Peas and Lentils

GRAIN TRADING HOURS TO CHANGE. . . .It has been reported that beginning Sunday, April 7, 2013 the Chicago Board of Trade will implement shorter trading hours.  The electronic trade will shift to a 7 p.m. (central time) start, and then take a 45 minutes break at 7:45 a.m. The electronic trade will resume at 8:30 a.m. and pit trade will begin at that same time.  All trading will end at 1:15 p.m.

. . . . .The final deadline for farms to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Rule (SPCC) for the regulation of aboveground oil storage in tanks and other containers is May 10.  The rule calls for such things as secondary containment walls, regular inspections of tanks and piping, and creation of an SPCC plan that has to be kept onsite.  For some storage tanks, a professional engineer must be hired to oversee development.

EPA has a dedicated webpage to assist with compliance of the SPCC regulation for farmers storing more than 1,320 gallons of oil.  In addition, EPA partnered with Asmark and The Fertilizer Institute to create an online tool to help prepare self-certified SPCC plans.  If you store 10,000 gallons or less of oil and have a clean oil spill history, you may be eligible to prepare a self-certified plan.   

. . . . . On Friday, February 22, the Arkansas Pollution Control & Ecology Commission (APCEC) approved the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ’s) request to initiate rulemaking on Regulation 2. ADEQ Reg 2 establishes the state’s water quality standards.

To view the draft changes, click on the following link: ADEQ - Reg 2 Proposed Changes.

Four public hearings have been scheduled:

April 15- Jonesboro – 6 p.m.- Allen Park Community Center
April 18 – Fayetteville- 6 p.m.- Fayetteville City Administration Bldg, Room 219
April 22- El Dorado- 6 p.m. – South Arkansas Community College, East Campus, Workforce    Development Bldg.
April 24 – North Little Rock- 2 p.m. – ADEQ Headquarters, Commission Room

Written and electronic mail comments will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. May 8.  

Send written comments to:  Doug Szenher, Public Outreach and Assistance Division, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72118

Sent e-mail comments to:

. . . . Peanut production has increased dramatically in some areas of the South. To keep pace with the increased acreage, major construction occurred in 2012 with the opening of four buying points.  Peanut growers from all over joined in a discussion with peanut producer Howard Thielemier and brothers Kyle and Jeremy Baltz of Baltz Feed Company to learn about the expanding peanut infrastructure and growing operations in northeast Arkansas and Mississippi. “We’ve been growing peanuts since 2010. We planted 600 acres in 2010, 2,500 in 2011 and 20,000 in 2012. This is a big growth area in Arkansas,” says Jeremy Baltz.
Click here for full article

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