On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed a new comprehensive farm bill that reauthorizes agriculture subsidies, rural conservation, federal nutrition assistance and energy related provisions over the next five years. The farm bill passed with a final vote of (68-32) and with the bill now passed the House & Senate, the president is expected to sign the legislation into law as soon as it lands on his desk. Click here for a link to the 2014 Farm Bill that includes a 1-page summary document.
Seeking comments on new safety standard for NH3 application equipment January 3, 2014
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) are working with the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers to develop a new safety standard for anhydrous ammonia agricultural application equipment. The working group is reaching out to stakeholders for input on the standard. Your input is being requested on any items you feel are incorrect or missing from the draft document. The working group will review your comments and provide feedback.
Click here to the following link to download the draft safety standard, the ASABE comment template, and general instructions on filing your comments. For questions on this new safety standard initiative, contact Travis Tsunemori with ASABE at (269)-932-7009.
Please ensure your comments are submitted before February 28, 2014.
OSHA requests comments on NH3 storage and handling compliance burdens The Fertilizer Institute December 26, 2013
Today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Federal Register Notice requesting comment on the compliance burdens associated with its Anhydrous Ammonia Storage and Handling Standard, 29 C.F.R. 1910.111. This notice is required periodically by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. You can find the federal Anhydrous Ammonia Storage and Handling regulations here.
OSHA estimates 203,000 entities are subject to the standard and that 345 annual burden hours are associated with the information collection requirements contained in the standard. The burdens identified by OSHA are: nameplates and markings for certain anhydrous ammonia containers (1910.111(b)(3)); and nameplates for refrigerated containers (1910.111 (b)(4)).
OSHA is seeking comments on the following:
Whether the proposed information collection requirements are useful and necessary for the proper performance of OSHA’s functions;
The accuracy of OSHA’s time and cost estimate for the information collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
The quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and,
Ways to minimize the burdens on employers who must comply with the standard.
If you would like to submit comments through KARA, please submit your comments to Randy Stookey, at firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than January 21, 2014.
AFIA: USDA announces plans to re-propose Food Safety Modernization Act rules December 19, 2013
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to re-propose the Food Safety Modernization Act rules on produce safety and preventive controls for human food (which includes feed). FDA plans to propose revised rule language and seek comment on it, allowing the public the opportunity to provide input on FDA’s new thinking.
There may be other revisions to the proposed rules; the scope of the revised proposals, on which FDA will seek further comment, will be determined after FDA completes the initial review of written comments. FDA believes that this additional step to seek further input on revised sections of the proposed rules that need significant adjustment is critical to fulfilling their continuing commitment to getting these rules correctly written for implementation.
USDA’s plan is to publish revised proposed rule language by early summer 2014. Read more on this announcement here.
Agriculture spies target seed technology, feds say USA TODAY December 12, 2013
A corporate agriculture espionage case announced Thursday by federal prosecutors offered a glimpse into how at least seven Chinese men allegedly traveled across the Midwest to steal millions of dollars in seed technology.
The investigation revealed how the men used counter-surveillance techniques to shake FBI tails, but still had the seeds confiscated by law enforcement authorities as they tried to leave the country.
Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo, is accused of stealing trade secrets worth at least $30 million to $40 million, said Nicholas Klinefeldt, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. It's the first corporate agriculture espionage case of its kind in Iowa, officials said.
"The point is to call people out on this type of activity," Klinefeldt said. "So that people know about it, and so companies can take the right precautions to prevent it from happening again."
Mo, the only person charged or arrested, used an alias to tour DuPont Pioneer's headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, and Monsanto's research facility in Ankeny. He also attend a state dinner in which Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad welcomed Xi Jinping, the then-future president of China, back to the Iowa. Mo and others often met at farm in Illinois bought by Kings Nower Seed, a Chinese seed company for which they were spying, court documents show.
The charge against Mo comes in a state that has pushed to increase trade with China. In October, trade agreements worth an estimated $1 billion were signed by companies from Iowa and China's Hebei Province. Read more.
Reid says Senate will not extend farm law Associated Press December 10, 2013
Government dairy subsidies that affect the cost of a gallon of milk are set to expire at the end of the year as farm-state lawmakers said Tuesday that they do not expect to have a new farm bill — or an extension of current law — before Jan 1.
Expiration of the current dairy subsidies triggers 1930s and 1940s law, outdated statutes that could upend the commercial dairy market and eventually cause the price of milk to rise. But Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, said she has assurances from the Agriculture Department that the price spikes would not happen before the end of January, and she and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, a Republican, say they hope to have a final farm bill deal by then.
The House and Senate have passed separate versions of the five-year, roughly $500 billion bill, but with widespread differences over crop subsidies and how much to cut food stamps.
"We will be ready to vote in January," Stabenow said after a meeting with Lucas Tuesday.
House Speaker John Boehner said last week that he favors an extension, and House leaders have reserved space on their agenda this week for extending the current law.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid balked at that plan. "Let them vote on it. We're not going to do it," he said Tuesday.
Stabenow said a short-term extension could allow subsidies called direct payments to continue. Those subsidies are paid to farmers whether they plant or not and have come under political fire from conservatives and others who have lobbied for less spending on farm programs. Both the House and Senate farm bills would eliminate the subsidies and create new ones. Read more.