September 28, 2020

September D.C. Update

Washington Roundup – September 2020

By: Lowell Randel

Congress Advances Continuing Resolution to Fund Government Through Early December

On September 22nd, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution that would fund the federal government through December 11th.  The bill passed with broad bipartisan support by a vote of 359-57.  The Senate followed by approving the legislation, averting a potential government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year.  The action moves further debates on fiscal year 2021 spending until after the election. 

The continuing resolution provides funding for federal programs, including research supported by USDA, NIH, NSF and other science agencies at FY 2020 levels.   In addition, the measure includes $8 billion in new funds for nutrition assistance and $21 billion to provide trade aid and coronavirus relief to farmers and ranchers.  The text of the legislation and a summary can be found on the House Appropriations Committee website.

FDA Proposes Rule on Food Traceability

On September 21st, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a proposed rule that would establish additional traceability recordkeeping requirements for persons who manufacture, process, pack, or hold food.  The rule would be a part of the food safety framework established under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). 

The proposal includes a Food Traceability List (FTL) that outlines the foods subject to the traceability requirements.  The FTL identifies foods including seafood, fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and products considered to be higher risk.  Firms handling food on the list would be required to establish and maintain records containing Key Data Elements (KDEs) associated with different Critical Tracking Events (CTEs).  CTEs include growing, receiving, transforming, creating, and shipping.  Click here for more information on the proposed rule.

Legislation Introduced to Counter Agricultural Espionage

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) has recently introduced legislation that would strengthen USDA’s efforts to protect U.S. agriculture from foreign espionage.  H.R. 8238, the Agricultural Intelligence Measures Act, would create an Office of Intelligence inside USDA.  The new office would focus on foreign efforts to steal U.S. agriculture knowledge and technology or "develop or implement biological warfare attacks, cyber or clandestine operations, or other means of sabotaging and disrupting" the industry.  The legislation comes as tensions continue to increase between the U.S. and China.  The bill has been referred to the House Agriculture and Intelligence Committees.

NIFA Provides $14 Million in Grants to Address Pandemic

On September 9th, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the funding of $14 million in grants to help find scientific solutions to challenges related to the pandemic.  In response to the pandemic, NIFA developed a series of COVID-19 Rapid Response funding opportunities targeted to the most critical issues facing university researchers, small businesses and consumers across America.  Of the 17 grants awarded, six are directly looking at livestock, dairy and/or meat issues.  Several of the other grants will address general food supply chain issues that will impact animal agriculture, meat, poultry and dairy.   More information on NIFA’s efforts related to coronavirus, click here.