Feed Bites

2024 State Legislative Recap: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Written by: Louise Calderwood   |   April 11, 2024

state issues, legislative

Each January, as most of the workforce settles back into post-holiday routines, state legislatures and departments of agriculture ramp up their activity, drafting new legislation and reviewing existing regulations. The mix of proposed legislation and regulatory changes falls into a grouping similar to the title of the iconic Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Here is the lineup of proposed state measures we have been chasing since early January, with as many action scenes and plot twists as the 1966 cowboy classic. 

In California, SB 1367 proposes to extend the existing inspection tax of $0.25 per ton of commercial feed sold in the state through Jan. 1, 2031. Currently, the tax is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2025.?We support the extension of the tonnage tax as a reasonable fee on feed manufacturers, imposed for the specific purpose of funding California’s inspection program and are pleased it is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee for review. 

We have remained neutral on Pennsylvania SB 979, a bill which proposes that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture?should have the authority to require anyone who sells commercial animal food to provide a posted notice on the premises with information on dangerous transmissible animal diseases.?The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture supports this bill. 

As originally drafted, Kansas HB 2168 proposed to allow the fiber, grain and seeds of industrial hemp to be used as food for livestock, poultry and pets. We voiced our concern for the lack of an official definition of hemp products for animal food and are pleased that the bill, which is currently in Kansas’ Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, has been amended and will no longer create a loophole to bypass the ingredient approval process and allow the use of hemp products in animal food.    

We have remained neutral on Kentucky HCR 103, a resolution proposing to encourage the Food and Drug Administration to ban the sale of food coloring Red Dye Number 3 in Kentucky. The dye is federally approved for use in animal food.  

Maryland HB 85 and Maryland SB 641 were identical bills that proposed to raise the spay and neuter tax on pet food from $100 per product to $130 per product, phased in over three years beginning this October.?We testified in opposition to both bills, neither of which has been active since mid-February. With the Maryland legislature on the brink of adjournment, we are hopeful this fee increase has been averted for another year. 

New York AB 9295 and SB 8615 are sister bills proposing to require in-state registration with the New York Department of Agriculture for products that food companies have self-affirmed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). Each bill has been referred to its respective committees on agriculture but neither has been active since mid-February. We are prepared to respond if either bill is scheduled for a committee hearing.?? 

We assisted the Vermont Feed Dealers and Manufacturers Association and the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance in their opposition to the tax increase proposed by Vermont H 626. The measure intended to create a new state director of animal welfare, funded by a $10 increase in product registration fees on all commercial feeds sold in the state. The bill was amended to remove the tax increase as a funding source for the position. With the legislative session drawing to a close, the bill is currently in the House Appropriations Committee.  

Similar to the Maryland bills, Virginia SB 31 proposed to fund the state’s Companion Animal Surgical Sterilization Program and Fund with $50 per ton tax on pet food.  We sent a letter in opposition to the measure and the bill was tabled until next year by the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.  

As we move to the summer months most legislators are exiting their statehouses and heading down the trail in a cloud of dust, similar to the ending of the “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” where Eastwood’s character rides off into to sunset following nearly three hours of high-action, plot twists and ever-changing characters.

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