Washington Regulatory Updates

February 22, 2018

H-2A Applications Surge

The government’s main guest-worker program saw a 17 percent increase in applications in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to a year ago.

H-2A positions requested by employers reached nearly 34,000, a record for the October-December period.  Some observers say the increase represents a shift away from undocumented workers in some agricultural industries.

Because the H-2A program is seasonal, it typically is not helpful to farms that need year-round labor, such as egg or dairy operations.

APHIS Posts Common Information Requests

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has launched a web page to post records that have been requested multiple times under the Freedom of Information Act.   APHIS said that any record requested at least three times would be posted, as well as items the agency expects to be requested several times or that APHIS believes to be of general interest.

The majority of documents posted so far relate to the Animal Welfare Act, which primarily applies to circus and laboratory animals and does not apply to farm animals or poultry.  Theoretically, documents related to animal health topics such as avian influenza could be posted, but none appear at this time.

 FSIS Egg Products HACCP Rule Published

The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) proposed rule to make egg product inspection regulations similar to those for meat and poultry was formally published on February 13.  Although the proposed rule was released by the agency in January, the formal comment period does not begin until publication in the Federal Register.  The deadline for receiving comments is now set for June 13, 2018.

UEP staff, in consultation with members of the Further Processors Division of United Egg Association, will prepare extensive comments on the proposed rule.