After a month away from Washington, D.C. members of congress are back on Capitol Hill, and are faced with several key food and agriculture policy issues for which ABA is paying close attention:
- COOL bill battle in the Senate: As expected, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued a final ruling that the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule violates U.S. trade obligations. This ruling allows America’s two largest export markets, Canada and Mexico, to establish retaliatory tariffs that would cost the U.S. billions in export sales including a 100% Canadian tariff on baked goods and ingredients. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this summer repealing the COOL mandate in order to comply with the WTO ruling. It is time now for the Senate to act. ABA urges you to take action today and request that your Senators support the House passed COOL repeal language before bakers are faced with retaliatory tariffs. CLICK HERE TO RISE TO ACTION.
- Bird Flu, Part 2 – The Return of the Egg Crisis: September brings with it lower temperatures and the beginning of another southern migration of wild birds from Canada into the United States, which may bring another outbreak of avian influenza. The U.S. poultry and turkey industries are still reeling from an outbreak that spread throughout the Midwest earlier this year and wiped out 48 million birds, but this fall eastern and southern states are in the flu’s path. ABA continues to work with USDA and FDA to open new egg import opportunities in order to protect bakers from critical supply disruptions.
- GMO Labeling and the Impending Vermont Law: In July, 45 Democrats crossed the aisle to pass Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo’s Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, a bill that would block states from creating a patchwork of labeling standards for products that contain GMOs. ABA is now working to urge the Senate to support the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. CLICK HERE TO RISE TO ACTION.
- The ongoing legal challenge over Vermont’s biotech labeling law is where most of the action will be in the near term. Yesterday, the Grocery Manufacturers Association was scheduled to back up its arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on why the law should be stalled. ABA will continue to keep you abreast of updates as they become available.
- School lunch reauthorization talks heat up: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently laid out why and how Congress should go about reauthorizing the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. If lawmakers let the law – which is behind the change in school lunch standards – expire on Sept. 30, some programs will be in limbo, including one that provides low-income kids a fresh fruit or vegetable snack each day. As Congress works towards reauthorizing the School Meals Program, ABA is working with Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) and Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) to bring relief to bakers by scaling back to a 50% whole-grain standard and push to change the allowable limits on non-creditable grain percentages in finished products enabling a greater variety into the program.