Legislative & Regulatory Leadership Actions
3/10/2014
August 2013 - January 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
by:

Section: Spring 2014


A synopsis of significant actions taken by AFIA on behalf of member companies in the legislative and regulatory arenas. For additional information on any of these items, please contact AFIA staff.

  Accomplishment Member Value
January FOOD SAFETY MODERNIZATION ACT: In a letter drafted by AFIA to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and signed by AFIA, National Grain and Feed Association, Pet Food Institute and National Renderers Association, a request was made in November 2103 to extend the comment period to March 31, for FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act proposed rules on good manufacturing practices and preventive controls for animal food. AFIA was notified that FDA intends to grant the request, which will add an additional month to the comment period. However, it is unlikely FDA will grant additional FSMA-related extensions due to a court-ordered timeline, which requires all proposed rule comment periods must end by March 31. FDA is appealing the timeline but AFIA believes it will not likely prevail in the appeal.
GLYCERIN: At the Association of American Feed Control Officials meeting in January, the ingredient committee approved the adoption of a tentative definition for “glycerin derived from biodiesel,” which AFIA’s Liquid Feed Committee requested an allowance of up to 5,000 parts per million of methanol and the removal of the sulfur limitations, but added a guarantee requirement.
The FDA-approved definition completely removed the sulfur level, but required guaranteeing the sulfur on the label. AFIA was very pleased with this change. The AAFCO definition now more closely matches the product available in the market and will allow for use of this product in the liquid feed industry. AAFCO membership will vote on it in August.  
Dec. & Jan.
CALCIUM: AFIA sent a letter to the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ president regarding the maximum calcium levels for dog food nutrient profiles. AFIA urged careful reconsideration of the recommended changes recently proposed by the AAFCO pet food committee.
At the January meeting, the expert panel that proposed the changes had recommended a level of 1.8 percent only for large breed dogs but the AAFCO Pet Food Committee drafted the table to make that maximum apply to all life stage diets including growth and reproduction for all dogs. This new level will be hard to reformulate some products to and AFIA is working with the Pet Food Institute on proposing a solution.
December
CANADIAN FEED RULES: AFIA submitted comments to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regarding feed ingredient assessment and authorization and feed labeling. With the current requirements, many U.S. feed and feed ingredients have difficulty entering the Canadian market.
During the process of rewriting their regulations, AFIA noted that any final regulations must reduce the compliance burden for feed and feed ingredient suppliers exporting to Canada and support fair and competitive trade in the market, as it is our joint obligation as signatories to NAFTA. AFIA will continue submitting comments as this process proceeds.
TPP: AFIA, along with 25 other organizations, sent a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative concerning the inclusion of language in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement to add a product-specific reference into the language that provides a general exception for regulations to protect human life or health.
Trading partners could use this exception to prevent the use of technology such as the use of hormones in meat production or the use of genetically modified organisms that are inconsistent with WTO rules and lack a science-based, health-related justification.
FOOD SAFETY MODERNIAZATION ACT: AFIA, the National Grain and Feed Association and “Feedstuffs” hosted a 3-hour webinar on FSMA and what it means to feed, pet food and ingredient manufacturers.
More than 800 locations attended the webinar, and feedback has been extremely positive. This is the first of many upcoming webinars and training programs for members on FSMA.
TRADE: AFIA, along with 54 other companies and organizations, sent a letter to Senate and House Appropriations committees leadership regarding the adequate funding of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The groups strongly support funding USTR at levels that will allow it to fulfill its duties in the trade arena.
The importance of exports, in terms of meat, milk and eggs as well as feed, pet food and feed ingredients, is not only important to AFIA members, but to the nation’s current economic recovery. USTR received funding of about $52.6 million for the remainder of FY2014, just above the last fiscal year.
TPP: AFIA, along with 41 other companies and organizations, sent a letter to Sec. Vilsack and Ambassador Froman regarding their ambitions and expectations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, reiterating the group’s focus on the seven core principles for a successful TPP agreement.
The reiteration of the key principals is important, especially in the area of market access – including the elimination of tariffs and other non-tariff barriers to trade including no exclusion of sensitive products.
VFDs: After many years of work, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the proposed rule for Veterinary Feed Directives.
While supportive of FDA’s proposed rule, which eases the administrative burden for feed mills accepting VFDs, AFIA continues to be concerned about the lack of veterinarians trained to complete VFDs and practical tools to meet this directive, as well as the lack of large animal veterinarians in general.
PET FOOD BEST PRACTICES: AFIA’s pet food committee finalized a guidance document, “Best Practices for Pet Food Safety.” This document can assist companies that are in the process of becoming certified in the Pet Food Manufacturing Facility Certification Program or to implement pet food safety plans to comply with the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act regulations.
The committee decided that pet food safety should not be a competitive issue in the industry and has since worked to provide educational materials, programs and resources for the entire industry to improve pet food safety for the betterment of the entire industry.
Nov. & Jan
BIOTECH LABELING: AFIA, as part of a wider coalition of feed and food companies and organizations, engaged in the “Facts about I-522” regarding labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in Washington state. AFIA has also joined a coalition of agriculture, processing and food groups affected by the GM labeling initiatives to press for federal preemption of state labeling regulations and find a U.S. Food and Drug Administration  human food “natural” labeling definition.
Voters in Washington state voted down I-522 by a significant margin. Animal feed and pet food would have been covered by this initiative, if passed, as the definition of food in Washington includes food for humans and animals. Animal feed and pet food packages would have needed to be labeled as produced with GM ingredients or would be considered misbranded if the measure had passed. On the national front, it’s expected the GM labeling federal preemption bill will be introduced in late February or early March.
November
FOOD ADDITIVE PETITON: AFIA and the National Grain and Feed Association filed jointed comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding Food Additive Petitions for animal food. FDA has published a draft guidance document and asked for comments.
In the comments, AFIA and NGFA noted FDA’s lack of clarity on terms such as mixture, components and material balance and asked those terms be defined. In addition, the groups commented on FDA’s request for companies to submit unrealistic level of manufacturing information as well as additional guidance was also requested in areas where FDA had specific recommendation such as types of studies for homogeneity, stability and intended effects.
FOOD SAFETY MODERNIAZATION ACT: AFIA submitted written and oral comments at two of the three public meetings hosted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the proposed rule to establish current good manufacturing practice and hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for animal food.
AFIA provided initial feedback to FDA on the proposed rules including requesting additional time for review, which has been granted as well as using a phased-in approach to the implementation of the rules so that companies would first implement good manufacturing practices and then add preventive control rules.
October
FOREIGN SUPPLIER and THIRD-PARTY RULES: AFIA submitted a request for the extension of the comment period for the Food Safety Modernization Act proposed rule on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals and the proposed rule on Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/Certification Bodies.
Originally comments were due Nov. 26, 2013, but FDA did extend the comment period to Jan. 27, 2014; less than what AFIA requested, but more time nonetheless.
CFTC: In other Commodity Futures Trading Commission action, AFIA joined with a broad coalition of CFTC regulated market users to urge President Barack Obama to replace retiring Commissioner Bart Chilton with a nominee equally attuned to the needs of agricultural market users.
Obama nominated Sharon Y. Bowen to replace Chilton on the CFTC. Bowen in a New York City lawyer with strong CFTC client experience, but no background in agriculture per se. Her appointment has not yet been approved.
September
CFTC: AFIA, along with 36 other organizations, sent a letter to all House members regarding H.R. 1003, legislation that would dramatically expand cost-benefit requirements in the promulgation of rules and regulations by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The groups believe the legislation is politically-motivated with the intent of slowing down, weakening or killing important new derivative market reforms, including those designed to prevent market disruption and manipulations.
If H.R. 1003 is enacted, CFTC would be required to conduct overly broad analyses of certain rules that were meant to serve as prophylactics (such as position limits) and without regard to the availability of essential market data. At this point, it has been approved by committee; but has not made it to the floor for a vote.
FDAAA TECHNICAL FIX: Use of the term ingredient “standards” in the 2007 law has caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to back off on working with AAFCO to create new ingredient definitions. AFIA Board visits to Capitol Hill resulted in more than 30 members of the House, the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee and two Senate leaders sending letters to FDA asking them to retain the AAFCO review process and find an administrative solution to the “standards” issue.
If the AAFCO informal review process is limited or changed by FDA, substantial time lags will occur in getting new ingredients to the marketplace. The lack of timely ingredient reviews will result in market disruption, economic loss and lack of feed growth. AFIA is about to launch phase two of its political effort to get FDA to recognize the seriousness of the issue and to take action to remediate its lack of action. AFIA believes the letter from FDA back to congressional members was incomplete and indicated the agency didn’t know where it was going on the issue.
FUTURES: AFIA, as part of a coalition of over 20 organizations, sent a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission regarding the Commission’s efforts to enhance futures customer protections. The capital charge and residual interest provisions of this rule will have the opposite impact as previously expected—if adopted, customers will be exposed to significantly greater financial risk.
If adopted as proposed, many producers who use futures directly will be discouraged from using futures markets to hedge their production risk due to the significantly increased funding requirements of pre-margining—perhaps nearly double the amounts currently required—therefore many small agribusiness hedgers will be forced to consider alternative risk management tools.
COMBUSTIBLE DUST: AFIA re-joined the coalition of industry trade associations that filed a legal challenge against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over its inclusion of new language on combustible dust in its revised hazard communication standard.
AFIA tried discussing settlement options with OSHA but they were unsuccessful. The next course of action was to re-join the lawsuit. The cost of these rules, if enacted as written, would be of great consequence to the feed and grain industries.
THIRD-PARTY: AFIA announced a partnership with the Safe Quality Food Institute to move the administration of the Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program and the Pet Food Manufacturing Facility/Ingredient Facility Certification programs to SQFI.
Certified facilities will now have a larger choice of certification bodies, use of SQFI’s programs to reduce multi-program requirements as well as have the opportunity to use a Global Food Safety Initiative-benchmarked program.
Aug. & Jan.
CIVIL PENALTIES: More than 20 Minnesota companies sent a letter to the Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture supporting the 1999 compromise between industry and AAFCO, which supported putting civil monetary penalties into the AAFCO Enforcement Guidelines for states but not in the AAFCO Model Bill.
While the process continues to move forward at AAFCO, AFIA continues to represent the industry’s interests in supporting the 1999 compromise. AFIA will not support drastic changes in feed laws such as encouraging states to adopt civil penalties when other enforcement mechanisms could be sufficient. Unfortunately, AAFCO did add civil monetary penalties to the AAFCO Model Bill. The Minnesota Commissioner’s office has told AFIA it is not pursuing civil penalties for feed in the state legislature.
August
IMMIGRATION: AFIA and nearly 100 other companies and organizations encouraged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to support passage of immigration legislation to address the labor crisis facing American agriculture.
To date, the House has opted to ignore the Senate-passed comprehensive bill in favor of a series of reform bills.  House leadership has declared immigration reform a priority and has promised “principles and standards” that will govern GOP reform efforts. AFIA will continue to advocate for immigration reform that addresses the needs of American agriculture.
FARM BILL: AFIA and nearly 50 other organizations sent a letter to Senate and House Agriculture committee’s leadership urging support for the inclusions of the Farm Animal Integrated Research Initiative in the farm bill.
FAIR represents and important opportunity to advance critical priorities in the area of animal science. FAIR’s three key focal areas include: food security, one health and stewardship. Continued research and support will help AFIA members address the need to feed the growing population. This effort was successful.
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