Second Quarter 2023 Regulatory Comment Review
The number of regulatory comments that AZFB responded to has continued at a steady pace into the second quarter of 2023. Below is a summary of the regulatory dockets that AZFB engaged in during this second quarter of the year, as well as several submissions made in early July.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) – Enhancement of Survival and Incidental Take Permits – Although FWS noted their proposal was an effort to clarify and simplify the enhancement of survival and incidental take permits, there were several concerns with the proposal. AZFB’s comments supported the comments prepared by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), which noted that FWS did not identify nor provide how the agency would make it easier and less costly for individual landowners to participate in conservation agreements or plans and how additional clarifications are needed regarding proposed conservation benefit agreements and incidental take permits revisions are finalized.
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – Use of Identification Ear Tags as Official Identification in Cattle and Bison – APHIS’s proposal included retaining the ear tag exemption for animals under 18 months of age, as well as for cattle over 18 months of age that are sexually intact and eventually will be harvested. AZFB’s comments supported the comments prepared by AFBF, which supported retaining this exemption but noted various concerns and areas for clarification, including that the proposal would create a government-imposed mandate for electronically identifying cattle and bison, asking for clarification as to how brands play into the proposed rule, how the cost of the program would be covered, and how data would be protected.
Food and Drug Administration – Labeling of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements – AZFB’s comments supported those prepared by AFBF, which called on the FDA to vigorously enforce food standards regarding the labeling of dairy substitute products and prohibit the misleading labeling of nut-and plant-based or other common dairy terms. The comments also noted how FDA should enforce labeling of imitation milk beverages and urged FDA to amend their draft guidance to prohibit the use of “milk” or other dairy terms on non-dairy substitutes.
USDA Forest Service – Eagle Creek Range NEPA – The Clifton Range District of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is proposing to authorize ongoing grazing livestock grazing on several allotments and provided three alternatives in its Environmental Assessment. AZFB’s comments opposed Alternative 1, the no grazing option, and urged the FS to consider only those alternatives that included grazing in the management plan.
Environmental Protection Agency – Draft Human Health and/or Ecological Risk Assessment for Peroxy Compounds – AZFB provided comments to EPA to highlight the important role proxy compounds play as a fungicide, agricultural water treatment, and sanitizer/cleaning agent for irrigation equipment. EPA’s risk assessment noted the potential for lowering application rates and restricting application methods. AZFB noted that certain reductions and restrictions may negatively impact users in Arizona; however, more specific information is needed from EPA to determine the extent of those impacts.
Bureau of Land Management – White Hills Solar, Mineral Park Solar, and Leo Solar Variance Applications – AZFB’s comments urged BLM to disapprove several variance applications which would allow for the siting of a solar installation on grazing allotments in Mohave County. The proposed solar project would take valuable agricultural land out of production, as well as negatively impact allotments with significant ranch infrastructure.
Environmental Protection Agency – Draft Occupational and Residential Risk Assessment for Dimtheyl Tetrachloroterephthalate (DCPA) – AZFB provided comments to EPA highlighting the important role DCPA plays as a herbicide in the production of certain crops in Arizona, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other Cole crops, as well as onions. AZFB’s comments urge EPA to carefully consider the benefits of DCPA as it moves forward with this registration review.
Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) – Environmental and Plant Services Division proposed rulemaking to modify administrative rules under Title 3, Chapter 3, Articles 1 through 5 and 7 through 10 – AZFB provided comments to AZDA noting support for rule modifications, in particular those which modify current rules to comply with federal requirements that must be in place for AZDA to maintain primacy over federal programs related to pesticides and worker protection standards.
Bureau of Land Management – Conservation and Landscape Health – BLM’s proposal included new regulations, including applying land health standards to all BLM lands, elevating “conservation” to a “use” under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLMPA), and prioritizing the designation and protection of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs). AZFB’s comments strongly opposed BLM’s proposal to define conservation as use and stated our serious concerns with proposed conservation leases. The comments also noted concerns with BLM’s process in developing the proposed rule, as well as their determination that the rule qualified as a categorical exclusion and is not a major rule. Additionally, AZFB joined a coalition letter with 57 other organizations that explained in greater detail issues and concerns with BLM’s proposed rule.
For more information about a specific comment letter, contact Ana Kennedy Otto at email@example.com.