January 6, 2019
The MWFPA News Bulletin is underwritten in part by Bug Blocker Doors & Screens
Federal rules for disclosing biotech food ingredients officially start taking effect January 1, but manufacturers and retailers don’t have enough information yet from the Agriculture Department on how to comply with the regulations, say industry officials.

Companies are waiting in part for instructions from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service on the process that will be used to detect whether food products or ingredients fall under the disclosure requirement. Read more from Agri-Pulse.
The MWFPA News Bulletin is underwritten in part by Alliant Energy
FDA Issues Final Guidance For Nutrition Facts Labeling Regulations

The FDA has issued final guidance to help manufacturers of packaged foods comply with its updated Nutrition Facts labeling regulations. 

It provides questions and answers on topics related to the definition of a single-serving container, dual-column labeling and miscellaneous issues, such as requirements relating to multi-unit retail food packages.  

Read more from FoodNavigator-USA.com and the guidance here.

In December, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 385-41 to approve a revamped trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, known as USMCA.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said all food and agricultural products that had zero tariffs under NAFTA will remain at zero tariffs. The USMCA will also create new market opportunities for U.S. exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange the U.S. will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and sugar products.

In the GOP-run Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), announced Dec. 20 that he'll lead a markup of its ratification on Jan. 7, the first day the Senate will be in session in 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the Senate won't consider it until after the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Mexico ratified the agreement last June and now will have to re-approve it with the latest changes.
Canada had an election in October and were working their way through approving the USMCA. Now it has to be re-introduced in a new Parliament, where it is expected to pass.

In a statement released by MWFPA, Jason Culotta said:

“The Midwest Food Products Association applauds the House for passing a modernized trade agreement. Food manufacturers, agri-businesses and consumers will benefit through improved trade relationships the deal provides with our neighbors in Mexico and Canada. As we commend the House for its passage of USMCA, we encourage the Senate to similarly adopt this important trade pact.”

Read more here.
 U.S. Senate Confirms Dr. Stephen Hahn As New FDA Commissioner

In December, the U.S. Senate has confirmed Dr. Stephen Hahn to be the next FDA Commissioner.

Dr. Hahn will take over for Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health within the Department of Health and Human Services, who has been overseeing the FDA since Ned Sharpless’s tenure as “acting” FDA Commissioner expired in November 2019. 

Read more from The Daily Intake.

A majority (84%) of food and beverage industry professionals surveyed by Mazars USA Food & Beverage Group expect sales growth in 2020 driven by growing consumer interest in private label and free-from products, while many are interested in entering the CBD market with new product introductions, according to the company's 2019 Food & Beverage Industry Outlook.

Read more from FoodNavigator-USA.com.
2020 Expectations: More Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Technology Advances in Food Safety Testing

2018 and 2019 were the years of the “blockchain buzz”. As we enter the new decade, we can expect a stronger focus on how technology and data advances will generate more actionable use for the food industry.

Food Safety Tech has highlighted many perspectives from subject matter experts in the industry, and 2020 will be no different. Their first Q&A of the year features Sasan Amini, CEO of Clear Labs, as he shares his thoughts on tech improvements and the continued rise in consumer expectations for transparency. Read more.

Back in September, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay. The final rule became effective on January 1, 2020. 

Get up to speed on the new changes! For more information to find out who is affected click here!

On December 19, in a unanimous decision , the Wisconsin Supreme Court said state agencies must promulgate as a rule changes to their policies.

In this case, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) violated Wisconsin law when ordering the uncompensated removal of an outdoor sign because it changed its mind on what the law means.
On behalf of MWFPA, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and the Wisconsin Dairy Alliance, the Great Lakes Legal Foundation (GLLF) filed an amicus brief urging the court to reverse a 2018 lower court decision creating an expansive exception to rulemaking requirements not otherwise allowed under Wisconsin law.

MWFPA's and the GLLF's interest in this case relates more broadly to agency avoidance of rulemaking that has become a chronic problem with all state agencies. Rulemaking takes time, providing opportunities for public comment, with approvals needed from elected officials in the legislature and the governor. These procedures are the law. Regulation by agency edicts, as in this case by DOT, are unlawful “workarounds” by agencies wishing to avoid the time and effort needed to develop and promulgate sensible and fair regulatory mandates.

Three truth in food labeling bills have passed the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions. The legislation is now available for scheduling for consideration by the full Senate.

SB 466, related to milk labeling and SB 463, related to dairy product labeling, passed the committee with bi-partisan support, while the meat labeling measure, SB 464, passed with a party-line vote.

The measures would restrict artificial dairy and meat products from using terms like meat and milk.
Panel To Hear WI Worker's Comp and Unemployment Insurance Bills

The Wisconsin Legislature's Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform is set to hold an executive session on three bills relating to various changes in the state's workers compensation and unemployment insurance laws. The session will take place on January 8, 2020.

The workers compensation measure includes important provisions such as allowing first responders to claim worker's compensation for PTSD mental injuries, and allowing employers to utilize PEO for their human resources needs while maintaining their current woker compensation carrier. Under current law, if an employer uses a PEO to service their HR needs, the employer is required to use the carrier of the PEO and must give up their incumbent, often Wisconsin-based, worker's compensation carrier.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2020, the Illinois General Assembly reconvenes for their 2020 spring legislative session. The Illinois Senate will meet on Sunday, January 19, 2020, for the election of a new Senate President. Both chambers have released their 2020 spring legislative session calendars, and they are linked below for your convenience.

The Minnesota Legislature 2020 session is scheduled to begin Feb. 11, 2020. The Legislature will be in recess for the Easter/Passover break from April 4-13, 2020. The 2020 session must end not later than May 18, 2020.

Indications are the Wisconsin Legislature will meet for floor votes only a few more times in 2020. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said he expects the Assembly to wrap up by late February. The legislature will be in session from January 14, 2020, through January 4, 2021.

On January 1, 2020, the Illinois minimum wage increased from the current $8.25 an hour to $9.25 an hour. This is the first of seven increases that will occur until the minimum wage in Illinois reaches $15.00 an hour on January 1, 2025. 

MWFPA opposed the minimum wage increase and, along with others in the business community, offered reasonable solutions to help mitigate the impact including a geographic wage that recognized the cost of living is different in Chicago, Rock Island, and Carbondale.

Additional proposals included a longer phase in and a more robust tax credit for small employers. 
Here are the following dates for future minimum wage tax increases:

  • January 1, 2020                            $1.00 increase                 $ 9.25
  • July 1, 2020                                   $0.75 increase                 $10.00
  • January 1, 2021                              $1.00 increase                 $11.00
  • January 1, 2022                              $1.00 increase                 $12.00
  • January 1, 2023                              $1.00 increase                 $13.00
  • January 1, 2024                              $1.00 increase                 $14.00
  • January 1, 2025                              $1.00 increase                 $15.00

As a reminder, as part of the minimum wage increase, the Illinois Legislature approved a limited income tax credit for businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees. This tax credit will also be available at the first of the year. 

The Illinois Department of Revenue has recently published a guidance for employers who wish to claim the tax credit. The guidance, found here , provides answers to frequently asked questions and instructions on how to apply for this new tax credit.

Illinois is the 10th state in the nation to authorize the use of recreational cannabis with the passage of P.A. 101-0027 , which went into effect January 1, 2020.  

Under the law, individuals over the age of 21 years can possess or use cannabis, subject to restrictions in the new law. Illinois residents may possess no more than 30 grams of cannabis while non-resident can possess no more than 15 grams. Recreational cannabis may not be used in public spaces; however, local governments may authorize the use of private clubs where cannabis can be used.
The new law allows employers to adopt reasonable zero tolerance or drug free workplace policies or employment policies concerning drug testing, smoking, consumption, storage, or the use of cannabis in the workplace or while on call. An employer may also discipline or terminate an employee or remove a job offer for a potential employee for violations of the employer's workplace drug policy.
On liability, the new law shall not be construed or imply a cause of action for any person against an employer for (1) subjecting the person to reasonable drug and alcohol testing including a person's refusal to be tested or cooperate in drug testing procedures, (2) actions including termination or discipline based on the employer's belief that the person was impaired while at the workplace or on call, or (3) injury, loss, or liability to a third party if the employer neither knew nor had reason to know that the employee was impaired.
In Memoriam - David Lau

MWFPA was saddened to learn of the passing of David Lau on Dec. 28, 2019. Dave was formerly President of Aunt Nellies Farm Kitchens, a subsidiary of Beatrice Foods Company of Chicago. He was 89

In 1988, he and a group of investors purchased Aunt Nellies and operated it until 1991 when it was sold to the Pillsbury Company. Aunt Nellies is now Seneca Foods.

Dave was born on July 9, 1930, in Hartford, Wis. He graduated from St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, and served in the U.S. Air Force from September 1951 to 1954. He graduated with a B.S. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in June, 1954. After graduation, Dave entered the family business, Clyman Canning Company (later Aunt Nellies Farm Kitchens).

Memorials may be given in Dave’s memory to The ROC (Watertown Recreation & Outreach). Online condolences and memories may be sent to www.watertownwifuneralhome.com.
Mark Your Calendar: MWFPA Events You Won't Want To Miss
January 29, 2020: MWFPA Human Resources Committee meeting. MWFPA offices, 4600 American Pkwy., Suite 210, 10 a.m. - Noon.

February 12, 2020: MWFPA Raw Products Committee meeting. MWFPA offices, 4600 American Pkwy., Suite 210, 10 a.m. - Noon.

May 28, 2020: MWFPA Spring Summit & Scramble, Trappers Turn Golf Club, 2955 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, WI

December 1-3, 2020:   MWFPA 116th Annual Convention and 93rd Processing Crops Conference . Kalahari Resort & Convention Center, Wisconsin Dells, WI.
Other Educational Opportunities
March 4 - 6, 2020 : Introduction to Ammonia Refrigeration Systems , Pyle Center , 702 Langdon Street, Madison, WI. Anhydrous ammonia is a "natural refrigerant" that does not harm the ozone layer, has no global warming potential, and is popular because of its environmental friendliness and unmatched thermodynamic properties. This course will help you understand the benefits of ammonia through an exploration and comparison of other refrigerants, thermodynamics, refrigeration cycles, and related equipment. For more information, click here .

April 28-30, 2020: FDA/USDA Better Process Control School. Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison, WI. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is pleased to support food and beverage manufacturers in the upper Midwest and across the nation by offering the FDA/USDA Better Process Control School. The Better Process Control School provides the food and beverage industry with qualified personnel in accordance with FDA and USDA regulations. All thermally processed low-acid or acidified foods which are packaged in hermetically-sealed containers must have certain critical operations supervised by a qualified person. Better Process Control School trains individuals to supervise these critical operations.
Arrangements have been made for content experts to support the industry via in-person, interactive lectures.
To facilitate travel, the training will be completed in 3 days. A full program schedule is here: https://foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/BPCS_2020.pdf
A link to online registration and more information is here: https://foodsafety.wisc.edu/
Brian Elliott | Midwest Food Products Association | Ph: (608) 255-9946 | Fax: (608) 255-9838
Web: www.mwfpa.org