A comprehensive summary of today’s judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food. Email important additions HERE.
JUDICIAL: Includes APA, food safety, production line speeds
In United Food & Com. Workers Union, Loc. No. 663 v. U.S. Dep’t of Agric., No. 19-CV-2660 (JNE/TNL), 2021 WL 1215865 (D. Minn. Mar. 31, 2021), a federal district court considered whether to vacate a rule issued by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (“FSIS”) under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (“FMIA”). The rule, issued in 2019, implements the New Swine Inspection System (“NSIS”), an optional program for pork processing plants that contains several reforms including the elimination of evisceration line speed limits. The plaintiffs in this case filed suit against the rule, claiming that it should be overturned. The plaintiffs claimed that the rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) because when FSIS initially proposed the rule, it had identified worker safety as an important consideration and requested public comments on whether elimination line speed limits would harm workers. However, after receiving numerous comments on the worker safety issue, FSIS rejected the comments and removed the line speed limits without appropriately considering worker safety. The plaintiffs argue that this failure to consider worker safety violated the APA’s requirement that agencies engage in reasoned decision-making. Ultimately, the court agreed. According to the court, “while FSIS summarized the comments it received about worker safety, the Final Rule contains no discussion, analysis, or evaluation of the worker safety comments.” Because FSIS had identified worker safety as an important factor that it had to consider when deciding whether to eliminate line speed limits, the failure to consider worker safety was a violation of the APA. Accordingly, the court has vacated the provision of the 2019 rule eliminating line speed limits and has sent that portion of the rule back to FSIS for review. The rest of the 2019 rule remains in effect.
REGULATORY: Includes AMS, FSA, FS, ITC, NOAA
Agricultural Marketing Service
Notice that USDA is announcing its call for nominations to fill four vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board. Info here.
Farm Service Agency
Notice that FSA is requesting comments from interested individuals and organizations on an extension of a currently approved information collection request associated with the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Info here.
Final rule allowing grant recipients to convey conservation easements to funding entities and, in some circumstances when consistent with the program’s purposes, convey community forest land to other eligible entities. Info here.
International Trade Commission
Notice that the United States International Trade Commission has determined pursuant to section 202(b) of the Trade Act of 1974 that fresh, chilled, or frozen blueberries are not being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported article. Info here.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Final rule implementing management measures described in Regulatory Amendment 34 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region, as prepared and submitted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Info here.
Temporary rule opening directed fishing for pollock in the West Yakutat District of the Gulf of Alaska. Info here.