CFTC Reauthorization coming up in Senate Committee
On Thursday, April 14th, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts has announced that the committee will meet to mark up a bill reauthorizing operations of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The commission has been operating without congressional authorization since 2013, but its activities have not been adversely affected.
The Roberts bill is expected to mirror a House-passed bill from 2015 in many key ways. It is expected to contain several Dodd-Frank law fixes and clarifications important to NGFA-member firms, including codification of the CFTC's residual interest action of a year ago that averted the prospect of additional pre-funding of hedge accounts; adding the force of law to CFTC action that relieved some market participants of unnecessary and infeasible recordkeeping requirements under Section 1.35 of CFTC rules; and affirming that anticipatory hedging is indeed bona fide hedging, an important signal to the commission as it seeks to finalize its position limit rule.
In an effort to gain bipartisan support in committee, the Senate version of the bill is expected to omit some provisions objectionable to Democrats that were included in the House-passed measure, including requirements for extensive cost-benefit analysis by CFTC before proposing major rules; certain governance issues at the Commission; and cross-border regulatory matters.
At this point, it is unclear whether the ranking Democrat on the committee, Debbie Stabenow, Mich., will seek to provide a mechanism for additional funding to the CFTC.
New USDOT proposed rules could stymie CDL training
The NGFA on April 5 submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expressing concern about a proposal that could discourage potential drivers from seeking a commercial driver's license (CDL) and dissuade employers from providing opportunities for CDL training.
The proposed rule released March 4 makes modifications to the FMCSA's Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) requirements, including the establishment of minimum training requirements that must be met before testing for a CDL. The proposal requires 30 hours of behind-the-wheel (BTW) training for a Class A license and 15 hours for a Class B license. It also includes a registration requirement for the employer to become an “entry-level driver training provider.”
In its comments submitted to FMCSA, NGFA noted that an onerous process for becoming a training provider will further shorten the supply of CDL drivers. NGFA maintains that BTW training should not be required; but if it is required, the training curriculum should have no time requirement and be outcome-based.
Regarding the employer requirement, NGFA reminded the agency that the gateway to a CDL often begins at grain, feed and processing businesses that are not solely engaged in trucking. To date, these businesses have been able to address a need for multi-disciplinary employees by using in-house expertise to conduct training ahead of CDL tests. FMCSA must craft its requirements for training providers in a manner that maintains flexibility for employer-based training, the NGFA noted.
FDA publishes final FSMA sanitary transportation rule
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 6 officially published its final regulations implementing the sanitary food transportation provisions embodied in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The final rule's requirements generally take effect one year following publication – or on or about April 6, 2017. The NGFA previously submitted extensive comments to FDA urging that it make significant changes to the proposed rule, which the agency issued in January 2014.
Importantly, FDA's final rule largely exempts rail carriers and truckers from the rule's requirements unless the shipper and the carrier have a written agreement (e.g., contractual agreements) making the carrier or another party responsible, in whole or in part, for sanitary conditions during the transportation operation. This written agreement also covers any obligation by the rail carrier or trucker to inform the shipper or receiver of the immediate previous load hauled in a conveyance, as well as information requested by the shipper regarding the most recent cleaning of bulk vehicles.