August 2013 NAPAR Homepage

FDA PUBLISHES NEW FSMA RULES

On July 26th FDA published two new proposed rules to implement FSMA, both dealing with imported food. The Foreign Supplier Verification rule will require importers of food to insure that their suppliers meet the same food safety standards that are required of U.S. food producers. The Third-Party Auditor rule will set up FDA approved certification bodies to insure the competence of foreign third-party food safety auditors. Together these proposed rules will help insure that FDA can prevent potentially harmful food from reaching U.S. consumers. Interested parties have 120 days to submit comments on these proposed rules to FDA. FDA also extended the current comment period for the proposed Produce Safety rule and Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls rule for an additional 60 days so that all four proposed rules can be considered together as the new framework for insuring the safest food possible for all Americans.

FARM BILL UPDATE

The implosion of the Farm Bill last month led the House GOP Leadership to split the traditional agriculture policy and nutrition bill into its component parts and pass the former separately. This could signal the demise of the rural-urban coalition that has worked well together for the last 50 years to pass farm bills that promoted agriculture and rural issues together with nutrition programs, like SNAP, for the urban poor. While the future of the nutrition portion of the Farm Bill is in doubt in this Congress, SNAP is a permanent program and doesn't have to be renewed. It just has to be funded through the appropriations process, which may become the new battleground for reining in SNAP spending. Agriculture programs on the other hand have to be renewed every five years or they revert to the original 1949 law, although the House Farm Bill will make them permanent, a very controversial change that is unlikely to become law. In the weeks before Congress recessed for its summer vacation Republicans, under the leadership of Majority Leader Cantor and Agriculture Chairman Lucas, tried to reach consensus on a new nutrition bill, but were unsuccessful. The Leadership believes that it can reach agreement over the recess and pass the nutrition bill when it returns in September setting up a conference with the Senate to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions.

EMPLOYER MANDATE DELAYED BY WHITE HOUSE

Last month the White House issued a statement delaying implementation of the employer health care mandate for employers with 50 or more employees until January 1, 2015. The delay will not reverse the health care insurance law but simply give employers a little more time to concentrate on how to comply with the law itself. Some industries, such as the agricultural sector, will use the extra time to continue to lobby Congress to make what has become known as "ObamaCare" work better for seasonal businesses. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the laws employer shared responsibility mandate.

QUICK NEWS YOU CAN USE

  • Buoyed by an improving economy and an increase in merger-and-acquisition activity, food retailing stocks gained ground in the first half of 2013, according to Supermarket News, with many outpacing the market overall and all showing at least some positive moment.

  • The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition's August edition has reported on a study linking longer life to greater consumption of fruit and vegetables. This study was done over a 13-year period and followed the lifestyles of over 71,000 individuals! The study found that the participants who consumer three vegetables per day lived 32 months longer than did those who never consumed vegetables. In their conclusion, researchers said that fruit and vegetable consumption of less than five servings a day is associated with shorter survival and higher mortality rates. But of course NAPAR members knew that!

  • More good news for the supporters of the Produce Traceability Initiative as the produce industry moves toward PTI. Everyone is now saying that PTI is less expensive than first thought and for suppliers it eliminates errors and chargebacks, offers foolproof first-in/first-out warehouse management; and can efficiently manage all purchase orders, order changes, etc. And now for both shippers and receivers, full PTI compliance means complete traceability from the field to the store/restaurant level.

  • United Fresh Foundation's most recent Fresh Facts on Retail report showed positive dollar and volume sales increases in the first quarter of 2013. Fruit dollar sales increased nearly 8% and vegetables increased 5.7%. Total volume for fruits and vegetables increased 1.4% and 2.1% respectively. Organic fruits and vegetables maintained growth in the first quarter, with fruit posting a total dollar growth of 24.4%, price increases of 8.4%, and a volume increase of 14.8%.

  • Fresh-cut produce items received rave reviews at the July national conference of the School Nutrition Association. Packaged fruit and vegetable options have continued to grow in popularity within school systems and the trend is expected to be strengthened because of the “Smart Snacks in Schools” program which gives fruit and vegetables a “hall pass” to all U.S. schools as a healthy snack option. The USDA approved the rule last June. This is a great opportunity to grow sales to schools!

 

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