June 28, 2016

GMO Labeling Agreement Too Late To Beat Vermont Law

The Senate Ag Committee announced at midday today that they have reached a compromise on the long awaited GMO labeling bill.  The agreement will allow companies to disclose GMO ingredients through digital codes rather than direct labeling on the package as some in the food industry had feared.  The agreement will also use a comparatively narrow definition of genetic engineering, meaning some of the newest methods of biotechnology will be exempt from the national standard.

Under the bill, a copy of which was provided to some reporters, would leave most food companies the option of using either a digital scan code for smart phones or to use an on package label or symbol which will have to be approved by USDA.  Any scannable codes will have the language “scan here for more food information”.

Smaller companies that would be burdened by such a system will have the option of putting a phone number or website on the package instead of the digital code.  Notably, the Vermont law would require products with biotech ingredients to be labeled as produced or partially produced with genetic engineering.  That language would be optional under this deal.

However, while many in the food and agricultural industries had hoped the bill would be agreed to before the Vermont law takes effect July 1st, that is now impossible.  The Senate is not scheduled to look at the bill until next week.  Even if they approve it, the House of Representatives has gone on their 4th of July recess a day early after House Democrats staged a sit in to protest a lack of vote on gun control legislation.




Longtime Senator Says GMO Labeling Bill Unlikely To Make July 1 Deadline

Grassley GMOVoluntary labeling of GMO foods will likely have to wait until after the Vermont mandatory labeling law takes effect July first, according to one U.S. Senator.

Senate Judiciary chairman and longtime agriculture Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa says that he knows of no breakthrough on voluntary GMO labeling, with less than two weeks before a Vermont law could spur a state-by-state patchwork of mandatory labeling…

Grassley GMO 1

That comes despite recent calls from the Senate Agriculture Committee that claims negotiations are “close” to a compromise on GMO labeling. However, no other details have been said on what the compromise may include.

Grassley says being up against a deadline can help sometimes, but he cautions that GMO labeling is wrapped up with a lot of emotion…

Grassley GMO 2

Food makers are not waiting for Congress to act as some already plan to comply with the Vermont law. Others are placing generic non-GMO labels on their products.


Risk Management Agency Submits New Replant Rule For Comments

The Risk Management Agency in charge of the federal crop insurance program has submitted a new replant rule to the Federal Register it hopes will help clarify some of the confusion surrounding replant and double crop considerations.  The rule was published Wednesday and will be open to comment until August 22, 2016.

According to a news release, USDA says the new rule is meant to clarify what some have said is vague language in the common crop insurance policy regarding when it is “practical to replant”.  They says concerns have been raised that different companies have applied the rules differently and the approval of this new language should help eliminate that difference in interpretation and level the playing field between producers.  According to the rule, USDA will now consider several factors such as moisture availability, marketing window, condition of the field and time until the crop matures to decide if it would be advisable for a producer to attempt to replant.  It will also be practical to replant before the late planting period or on the final planting date if there is no late plant period.  There are some limited exceptions to that rule, however, such as if the acreage were to become physically unavailable to plant, such as a sudden flood.

After the comment period, USDA/RMA will be able to make change to the rule if any major issues arise, otherwise it will go into effect, as written, for the 2017 crop year policies