The feed industry is not opposed to feed safety regulations, said Richard Sellers, senior vice president for public policy and education with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). However, there are aspects of current and upcoming regulation that could use more explanation or be modified to better fit the industry, he said.
“We’re opposed to the overzealous and very heavy regulatory burdens that have been placed on us by this [Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations],” he said. “We believe that we have a very safe industry and, as done by the economic analysis, the benefits are negligible, so we’d like to see some relief and we think that this administration is in line with this philosophy so we’re hopeful.”
Additionally, the AFIA is in the process of defining its priorities, said Sellers.
“We’re in this kind of container ship right now and we’re trying to figure out where the wind is blowing, where our rudder is going to take us,” he said. “We’re trying to do our budget for next fiscal year, and we can’t determine how many training sessions we need to hold because we don’t know where the administration is going.”
Furthermore, a commissioner for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also yet to be named, he added.
Ongoing regulatory concerns
There are several areas that could be addressed within FSMA from altering compliance dates and seeking additional information regarding hazard analysis, said Sellers.
Looking forward, the association does not think that the entire FSMA regulation is likely to be deleted, but the administration and congressional leaders may be willing to discuss aspects, he said. “They may want to negotiate things, and we’re ready and willing and open to doing what’s called negotiated rulemaking,” he added.
“The wholesale deletion or change of the rule is quite complicated, rule-making is governed under the administrative procedure act, which requires a minimum 60-day comment period so any change in the FSMA rules of animal food or anything would have to go through notice and comment rule making,” said Sellers. “But, typically, agencies can deal with enforcement or compliance date in just a notice.”
Additionally, the trade group is waiting to hear more information regarding a requested change in a record keeping portion of the Veterinary Feed Directive, said Sellers. In the post-election period before the inauguration, AFIA was told that no changes regarding how electronic records could be validated would be made, but Sellers said they will continue to call for such amendments.
“We think eventually we’ll get there, we just wish it had happened on January 1 so people don’t have to keep all these records,” he said. “Similarly, if our board approves, we’ll be asking for that type of record exemption under the current good manufacturing practices for medicated feed.”