On July 30, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened a public comment period to respond to a petition from the Natural Resource Defense Council to revoke all food tolerances for neonicotinoid insecticides on the basis that EPA failed to properly assess human health effects during its registration review process. The U.S. Canola Association (USCA) submitted comments Aug. 28 with concerns about the petition, reiterating the need for appropriate and responsible use of neonicotinoids.
Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that would codify the Precautionary Principle and make significant changes to pesticide laws. The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020 calls for a comprehensive reform of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Among the bills changes, it would ban all organophosphates and neonicotinoids, rollback federal preemption of state and local pesticide regulations, ban any pesticide banned by the EU or Canada, and additional steps that could block or slow the EPA registration review process. The USCA is part of a Pesticide Policy Coalition that will educate Congressional offices on pesticide issues and oppose the new act.
The USCA joined over 100 agricultural organizations in expressing views and priorities to Congressional transportation committee leaders on the surface transportation (highway bill) that is due for reauthorization by Oct. 1. Their letter focused on trucking policies of greatest importance to the food and agricultural supply chain. The groups represent farmers, ranchers, food and beverage manufacturers, processors, package suppliers, farm supply dealers and agricultural product marketers.
On Aug. 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a final rule on implementation of changes to payment limitations and the definition of “actively engaged” in farming. In accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, the rule includes first cousins, nieces, and nephews while also requiring that family members provide at least 25 percent of total management hours or perform at least 500 hours of management annually.
Also in August, the USDA Farm Service Agency announced that Farm Storage Facility Loan borrowers experiencing financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges have a one-time annual installment payment deferral option.
Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden states that he plans to remove U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports to normalize trade between the two countries. He believes that tariffs have damaged U.S. agriculture and manufacturing worth millions of dollars. Biden calls for reform in trade policies and a broad international coalition to press China to follow world trade rules. Prior to the trade war, China was America’s number one customer for agricultural exports.
Since sufficient funding remains under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), U.S. farmers are expected to receive the remaining 20 percent of the eligible amount from the first round of CFAP payments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended the relief program to a dozen more commodities and the application deadline to Sept. 11. In addition, Secretary Perdue has indicated USDA’s intent to announce a second round of CFAP payments after Labor Day. Changes to the payment structure are possible.