EPA Delays WOTUS Rule Implementation

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are formally acting to delay the effective date of the Obama-era “waters of the U.S.” rule by two years to give the Trump administration time to implement a replacement.

The Supreme Court essentially forced the administration to delay the effective date by ruling that the appeals court that originally put a hold on the rule lacked the jurisdiction to do so.

The agencies plan to propose a new WOTUS rule early this year, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a Senate committee Tuesday that he hoped to finalize the new rule by the end of 2018.

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WI Gov. Walker Delivers State Of State Address

WI Gov. Scott Walker gave his eighth State of the State Address Wednesday.

In addition to playing up the state’s successes, he urged lawmakers to overhaul welfare rules and approve both a child tax credit and a proposal to make health care affordable to all.

The cost of the child care credits is expected to be $122 million annually.   Walker looks to use a projected budget surplus expected to top $480 million to fund new credits. Under the proposal, WI families would receive $100 for every child, under 18 and living at home.

A few hours prior to his speech, Walker proposed a new $50 million annual investment in rural economic development projects.  The initiative would include low-interest loans for dairy businesses, more money for state marketing efforts, and a new college scholarship program for students to take agriculture classes at state colleges.

View Gov. Walker’s address here:  https://youtu.be/Lu8hJ-AzJ1Q

FDA Tightens Recall Policy Ahead Of Hearing

Ahead of a congressional hearing today, FDA announced that it is releasing a draft guidance that will speed the issuance of calls and spell out what should be in company warnings to consumers. The guidance also advises companies on when FDA would issue its own warnings to consumers.

The guidance will apply to animal and human drugs as well as food. The release of the guidance follows a report issued last month by the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services on FDA’s food-recall procedures.

The IG report, which was based on a review of cases during the Obama administration, found deficiencies in FDA’s oversight of recall initiation, its monitoring of recalls, and the agency’s tracking of information. Before the investigation was completed, the investigators issued an “early alert” memo warning agency officials of the preliminary findings.

In addition to issuing the guidance, FDA also is developing a new policy on what information the agency will disclose to consumers to help them identify recalled food products. One step the agency says it could take is to start identifying the specific stores where recalled products were sold.

“Our recall authorities – and how we deploy them – are a cornerstone of our vital, consumer protection mission and I take these obligations very seriously,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is holding a hearing on FDA’s recall procedures this morning.  From Agri-Pulse

FDA Sets Aside Enforcement Of Some FSMA Rules

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced it will not enforce certain Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules because the agency needs more time to consider “the complex supply chain relationships and resource requirements” related to definitions and required disclosures.

FDA will delay enforcement of some provisions related to (i) produce safety; (ii) disclosures regarding hazard analyses; (iii) importation of food contact substances under the Foreign Supplier Verification Program; and (iv) human food byproducts used in animal food.

Among other issues, FDA stated, are questions about factors such as farm ownership and farm-related activities that affect the determination of what business entities are “farms.”

Nutrition Policy A Priority In 2018, FDA

It appears that the FDA will make nutrition policy a top priority according to its recently released policy roadmap for 2018.

The document states FDA  “will  take  new  steps  in  2018  to  implement  a  comprehensive  plan, incorporating  a  range  of  new  efforts,  to leverage dietary  information  to  reduce  the  burden  of  disease through nutrition and encourage the development of more healthful food options.”

Several  specific actions that are expected include more guidance on menu labeling; information on Nutrition Facts labeling rules; and plans for a new public education campaign of both new labeling regulations.

FDA’s work on sodium reduction – something that caused considerable controversy during the previous administration – will continue to be part of the agency’s work on nutrition. The document lists “advancing guidance on dietary sodium reduction” as an action it plans to take.   See the document here.

Seneca Foods’ Brekken Elected Chair of MWFPA Board

Jon Brekken, Vice President of Western Vegetable & Seed Operations & Agriculture for Seneca Foods Corporation based out of LeSueur, MN has been named chairman of Midwest Food Products Association’s (MWFPA) board of directors for 2018.

As chairman, Brekken will assume leadership of MWFPA’s governing body and will preside over quarterly meetings of the Association’s board of directors. This governing body adopts policies and provides strategic guidance and oversight for the Association.

“I am confident Jon will provide strong, objective and thoughtful leadership to the Board based on his deep understanding of the food industry, said MWFPA President Nick George. “Our Association remains a leading voice in the Midwest. Jon’s experience and leadership will provide valuable guidance to MWFPA and our members.”

Brekken has worked for Seneca for more than 30 years; he has served on the Association’s Board since 2010 and its executive committee since 2015. He also serves on MWFPA’s Minnesota Legislative Committee.  Brekken also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Food Processors Assn. as well as the American Fruit & Vegetable Processors & Growers Coalition, and is a past member of the USDA Fruit & Vegetable Ag Trade Advisory Committee.

“As our industry’s advocate, MWFPA effectively guides policy concerning the food manufacturing industry,” said Brekken. “Seneca Foods has been a strong supporter of these efforts for many years and I, along with my fellow board members, look forward to building on MWFPA’s success.”

Several changes and additions to the MWFPA Board of Directors were announced recently at its annual convention held in Rochester, MN:

Ryan Downs (GLK Foods) and Mike Forbes (Hormel Food) agreed to serve another 3-year term.

Gregg Ruffalo of Plainfield Trucking stepped down from the Board and Steve Hughes from Lyco Manufacturing will take his place.

MWFPA welcomed its newest Board members – Tom Kwak from Chippewa Valley Bean Company and Chris Jones of McCain Foods.