This year has been light in regards to state legislative and regulatory issues for the feed industry compared to recent years. Several states are in the planning process to update their feed laws during the 2015 legislative session, keeping the American Feed Industry Association and the industry busy to minimize the government’s impact on business while appropriately protecting the consumers in the state.
Here are some of the activities that have occurred thus far in 2014 and potential future legislative and regulatory issues:
Connecticut: In 2013, Public Act 13-183, the genetically modified labeling law, was enacted but it contained an inconsistency related to the applicability to animal food. The leaders in the Connecticut House and Senate vowed to correct a mistake related to feed and pet food and the “natural” provision. On May 5, the governor enacted Public Act 14-17, which corrected this problem. AFIA appreciates the state correcting this important issue for the animal feed and pet food industries.
Illinois: HB 4762 was a bill originally set to deal with Noxious Weed Law. On May 5, it was gutted and language was substituted as an amendment that would amend the Illinois Commercial Feed law to give the department additional administrative hearings and fine capability for violations. The amendment was never vetted with the local industry but was desired by the department of agriculture. AFIA worked with the Grain & Feed Association of Illinois to share concerns with the proposed new fine authorities without proper discussion and consideration with the industry. Ultimately, the sponsor withdrew the bill from consideration after hearing industry’s concerns. Discussions with the sponsor are ongoing. AFIA appreciates the work of GFAI in facilitating action.
Maryland: S 294 was signed by the governor on April 8. The law extends the Maryland Horse Industry Board’s authority to assess $6 per ton of commercial equine feed sold in the state until 2026. The current assessment was set to expire in 2016. As originally proposed, the bill would have also removed any restriction on the use of the funds. Currently, the funds are required to be spent on equine education, promotion and research to benefit the state’s equine industry. AFIA weighed in with the appropriate committees and the bill was amended to its current state during committee deliberation.
In March, the department of agriculture proposed changes to its commercial feed regulations that would set the additional fee required on dog and cat foods registered in the state. The additional fee was required in the law enacted in 2013 that established a spay/neuter program for low-income individuals and shelters that are unable to otherwise afford the service. Starting Oct.1, 2013, the additional fee was $50, on Oct. 1, 2014, the fee will raise to $75, and on Oct. 1, 2015, the fee will be $100 per product. The proposed rule also sets out parameters for the grant program authorized in the law. AFIA and the National Grain and Feed Association submitted comments on the proposed rule on April 21, providing areas where changes could be made to the regulation that would improve the efficiency of the program.
Vermont: On May 8, the Vermont governor signed into law requirements for products from genetically modified organisms to be labeled as such in the state. Vermont is now the first state to adopt such a bill without any “strings” for the compliance date. Animal feed and pet food are exempt from the bill because the definition of “food” was amended during consideration by the Senate to limit it to food “intended for human consumption.” AFIA remained opposed to any mandatory labeling of products with genetically modified organisms and communicated our opposition for the bill prior to the votes. Food industry associations have since filed a lawsuit against the state to stop the implementation of the law which will take effect July 1, 2016.
Areas for future work include the following states looking to update their feed law or regulations in 2014 or 2015: Alabama (regulations), Michigan (law), Nevada (law), New Hampshire (law), Ohio (regulations), Pennsylvania (law and regulations), Tennessee (law), Utah (law), Washington (regulations) and Wisconsin (law).
AFIA staff now divides the U.S. into three areas with Richard Sellers, AFIA senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, handling the southeastern part of the U.S., Paul Keppy, AFIA government affairs specialist, handling part of the Midwest and the northeast and Leah Wilkinson, director of ingredients, pet food and state affairs, handling the western portion of the country.
Please contact Sellers at (703) 558-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Keppy at (703) 650-0144 or email@example.com or Wilkinson at (703) 558-3560 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you hear of bills/rules being proposed or to get involved in states where changes are being considered.