How the Omnibus Spending Bill Impacts Agriculture

Last week, Congress passed and President Trump signed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, formally called the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. [View full text here.] What you might not have realized is that there are a number of provisions included within that bill that will significantly impact agriculture.

“Grain Glitch” Fix.
When Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill back in December, there were provisions giving additional advantages in form of deductions to producers who sold grain to cooperatives that did not exist for farmers selling to independent buyers.  When this was discovered, numerous Congressmen said this was an inadvertent error that would be remedied.  The spending bill corrected this “grain glitch”  in Division T, Section 101, which essentially does away with the deduction advantaged given to coops under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  For more detail, read articles here and  here.

CERCLA Air Emissions Reporting.

You may recall that last year, a federal court found a provision excluding agricultural operations from reporting air emissions from manure to be illegal.  [Read prior blog post.]  Thus, the clock was ticking and it was expected that producers would be required to report emissions of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from manure as of May 1, 2018.  However, in Title XI of the spending bill, Congress passed the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (“FARM”) Act.  This provision states that the reporting requirements of CERCLA do not apply to the application, handling, or storage of a FIFRA registered pesticide by an agricultural producer or to air emissions from animal waste at a farm.  A “farm” is defined as a site or area (including structures) used for the production of a crop, or the raising or selling of animals and produces at least $1,000 in agricultural products per year.  [Read article here.]

ELD/HOS Enforcement Delay for Livestock and Insect Haulers. 
The spending bill includes language in Division L, Section 132 prohibiting funding being used by DOT for enforcing the FMCSA regulations related to electronic logging devices for livestock and insect haulers through September 30, 2018.  “Livestock” in this context is defined as “cattle, elk, reindeer, bison, horses, deer, sheep, goats,swine, poultry (including egg-producing poultry),fish used for food, and other animals designated by the Secretary that are part of a foundation herd or offspring or are purchased as part of a normal operation.”  Between now and September 30, 2018 the agency is set to further review the new regulations and offer additional guidance on how this applies to the livestock industry.  [Read article here.]

Meanwhile, separate from the spending bill, a second 90-day waiver is in place not just for livestock, but for all agricultural haulers, through June 18, 2018.  We are currently working on updating our fact sheet on these regulations and I will re-post when those revisions are complete.  [Read article here.]

Dairy Labeling Requirements.

You may recall from this prior blog post that there has been discussion in Congress about dairy labeling standards when certain foods and beverages are plant-based rather than animal based.  The House included an instruction in their Report to the FDA to develop a standard of identity for dairy products and to issue guidance to the industry on how to implement this standard.  This language builds on the Dairy PRIDE Act, previously introduced in the House and Senate.  [Read article here.]

Elimination of SAM/DUNS Requirements.

The bill includes language that exempts farmers and ranchers from the System for Award Management “SAM” and Data Universal Numbering System “DUNS” reporting requirements when enrolling in conservation programs with USDA.  Prior to this bill, farmers and ranchers were required to obtain a SAM registration and a DUNS number before they could apply.  By doing away with this requirement, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the spending bill “clears away red tape for participants on conservation programs” which were not intended for farmers and ranchers, but instead for “billion-dollar government contractors.”  [Read articles here and here.]

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