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COOL and Hot Topics from the MI Food and Agriculture Border Gateway Summit

Recent good fortune found me taking a day trip to the third annual MI Food and Agriculture Border Gateway Summit held in Livonia, MI on February 20th. Registration to this event was free and I would be remiss if I didn’t commend the MI Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and the sponsors of the summit for a job well done. This event was incredibly diverse; full of engaging speakers and an agenda that traversed everything from security to local commerce and initiatives from regulatory agencies.

 

The event was well attended with a participant list almost as assorted as the agenda. Let’s call it a hodgepodge of trade professionals ranging from importers, consultants, brokers, producers, growers and government officials – about 200 in total.  I’d encourage anyone with interest and a future opportunity to attend version 4.0 in 2015.  A quick side note, it was great to see many of our clients in attendance and engaging in the presentations.

Some facts, highlights and a bit of commentary:

COOL

Opening remarks from Ray Norton; Consul General of Canada in Detroit found the US taking some hits on the COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) requirements imposed by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (commonly referred to as the Farm Bill).  Mr. Norton provided a brief history of COOL, WTO hearings; including rulings that found COOL policy to be inconsistent with international trade rules. The message was clear – for the US to uphold the WTO rulings and honor trade obligations with Canada. To date, Canada has not imposed retaliatory sanctions but questions remain. How long canCanada continue to remain patient and at what cost to final consumers if additional tariffs are put in place?

FDA

Domenic Veneziano, Director, Division of Import Operations quickly noted that the public comment period on two “hot” Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposals has recently closed(01/27/14).

Specifics regarding Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) and Accreditation of Third-Party Auditorscould not be discussed; however he did offer the following trends which seemed to be of particular interest to the trade:

 

•Supplier verifications.  Option 1 (onsite auditing) vs. Option 2 (other certification).

•Definition of foreign shipper and how far back in the supply chain will be required.

•Definition of importer.

•Definition of qualified individual.

•Documentation required for audits.

•Whether to allow a report from another food safety agency (for example CFIA) in lieu of an onsite audit.

•Clarify definition of “small” importers and foreign suppliers.

•Provisions for food from countries with comparable food safety systems.

•Alignment of FSVP requirements with supplier verifications that are already in place.

•Potential use of DUNS number to identify importers.

 

Other FDA quick hits that where touched on:

•Know your supply chain!

•Section 801 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act states that FDA can detain without physical examination based on the “appearance” of a violation.  See Import Alerts.

•Be aware of your timelines and right to refute an FDA detention.  FDA may uphold or overturn if a reconditioning proposal is submitted.

•Be aware of Import Alerts – they prevent volatile products from being introduced into the US.

oApproximately 274 alerts active; the highest percentage is food items.

 

In summary – Stay Closely Tuned! FDA has a lot in the pipeline; much of which still needs to be decided before implementation.

 

Security Programs

Security and emergency preparedness is still at the forefront of government operations with additional presentations coming from the FBI and MI State Police. C-TPAT is still garnering attention and benefits are on the rise. You may see similar programs already in place such as the Importer Self-Assessment rolled into C-TPAT in the near future.

 

A quick fun fact to close – Did you know that there are currently 74 fusion intelligence centers; designed to organize, collaborate, collect and share data within the intelligence cycle in the US? Michigan is at the forefront in this respect – including emergency preparedness MOUs with bordering states.

 

Click here for more on this event.  I’m told presentations will be made available to the public in the near future.