World Health Organization delegates approve dairy marketing restrictions for infants and children. USDA streamlines acreage reporting requirements and extends the deadline to report restructuring or operational changes affecting participation in federal farm programs. A Pennsylvania law raises allowable milk truck weights. Key dates for potential immigration reform loom. This and other U.S. dairy policy news can be found here.
WHO assembly approves both dairy restrictions, protections
Health ministers and other delegates from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 194 member states adopted new guidance that aims to protect breastfeeding by restricting the marketing of milk and other dairy products for consumption by infants and young children between 6 months to 3 years of age. However, the assembly also passed an accompanying resolution promoting dairy consumption, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
U.S. dairy organizations, including IDFA, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), had previously expressed concern over the WHO document urging the prohibition of the promotion and marketing of various milk products for children up to 3 years old.
Delegates approved that document in late May while meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, at the 69th World Health Assembly. However, the assembly also passed an accompanying resolution with provisions sought by IDFA, USDEC, NMPF and industry counterparts.
The resolution states existing WHO guidance, which actually promotes dairy product consumption, should still be followed. It also recognizes the Codex Alimentarius Commission is the global standard-setting body for foods and beverages, not WHO, thereby helping to ensure a more robust and transparent Codex process will be used for defining food and food-labeling standards.
USDA streamlining acreage reporting
Farmers filing crop acreage reports with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and participating insurance providers approved by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) now can provide the common information at one office. This new process is part of the USDA Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative (ACRSI).
More than 93 percent of all annual reported acres to FSA and RMA now are eligible for the common data reporting. Producers must still visit both locations to validate and sign acreage reports, complete maps or provide program-specific information.
Farmers can now access their FSA farm information from the convenience of their home computer. The new customer self-service portal, known as FSAFarm+, provides online access to securely view, print or export their personal farm data. To enroll in the online service, producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for details.
USDA ‘actively engaged’ reporting requirement deadline extended
Large farm partnerships have a 30-day extension, until July 1, to report farm restructuring or operational changes affecting participation in USDA programs.
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed USDA to amend the “Actively Engaged in Farming” rules related to management. The final rule established limits on the number of individuals who can qualify as actively engaged using only management. Only one payment limit for management is allowed, with the ability to request up to two additional qualifying managers operations for large and complex operations.
The rule does not apply to farming operations comprised entirely of family members. The rule also does not change the existing regulations related to contributions of land, capital, equipment or labor, or the existing regulations related to landowners with a risk in the crop or to spouses. Producers who planted fall crops have until the 2017 crop year to comply with the new rules. The payment limit associated with Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm payments is generally limited annually to $125,000 per individual or entity.
Pennsylvania law raises milk-hauling weight limits on interstate highways
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 1108 into law, raising the state’s weight limits for trucks hauling milk.
Long-sought by the Pennsylvania dairy industry, the bill (now known as Act 34) enables the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to issue special permits to milk-hauling trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds.
Previously, federal law limited how states could treat bulk milk shipments. That limitation was removed under the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law last December. It allows states to more closely align weight limits with neighboring states.
New York, Ohio and West Virginia have had higher interstate weight limits. The new Pennsylvania special permits allows state haulers to move more milk with fewer trucks, reducing the cost of moving milk to processors.
Under Act 34, PennDOT and the state Agriculture Department will develop a permitting and fee schedule, similar to what is in place for dairy haulers on non-interstate roads.
U.S. Supreme Court upholds landowner’s right to appeal ‘waters of the U.S.’ determination
A landowner may immediately appeal an agency’s determination that property contains “waters of the United States” and is subject to the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), according to a decision issued May 31 by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The decision in Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. is summarized on the Ohio State University Agricultural Law & Taxation Blog.
The Supreme Court ruling centered on a decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) that property in Minnesota owned by the Hawkes Company (Hawkes) contained wetlands subject to the CWA. Hawkes planned to mine peat on the property and would have to comply with Minnesota regulations.
The Corps decided Hawkes must also comply with federal CWA regulations based on its “jurisdictional determination” that the property contained waters of the United States because its wetlands had a “significant nexus” to the Red River of the North, located 120 miles away.
After differing decisions in district and appeals courts, the Supreme Court concluded the Corps’ jurisdictional determination is appealable under the federal Administrative Procedures Act.
Read the decision in Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. (PDF, 128KB)
Court ruling, election will determine immigration reform pace and direction
Two dates could determine the timeline and direction for potential immigration reforms moving forward.
In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court will announce a ruling on the Obama Administration’s 2014 executive actions regarding illegal immigrants.
Then in early November, presidential election results will determine what, if any, reforms are coming or if the barriers to reform get bigger.
A University of Texas A&M study, conducted in coordination with the National Milk Producers Federation and released in August 2015, indicated 51 percent of all dairy farm workers are immigrants and the farms employing them account for 79 percent of U.S. milk production.
The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) hosted a webinar, “Securing a Reliable Labor Force,” in May. One of the ideas put forth was the creation of state-based visa programs.
Read the full Progressive Dairyman article. PD
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