January 2021 Policy Snapshot: Food Policy Movement in the New Year

8 Jan 2021 11:58 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

Inside the Florida State Capitol Building

It’s a new year! The Florida legislature, set to convene for the regular session on March 2nd, has finalized committee appointments and is preparing to attend interim sessions next week. Over the last month, we have seen legislation put forward to protect businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits in Florida, the release of new national dietary guidelinesand more support for local farmers from the USDA. In our latest policy snapshot, here is here is some of the local and national food-related policy movement you need to know about. 

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls Pledges Support for  Legislation to Protect Florida Businesses and Nonprofits from Frivolous COVID-19 Lawsuits 

On the first day of the House’s first interim committee meeting week, the Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee will take up HB 7 for a vote during its 4 p.m. meeting on January 13th in Webster Hall (212 Knott) at the Florida Capitol. While HB 7 focuses on businesses and nonprofits, the Florida House will separately address COVID liability protections for health care providers and facilities, including nursing homes and long-term care facilities, in the Health & Human Services Committee siloSenator Jeff Brandes filed an identical Senate Bill SB 72 

More information can be found here.

USDA Announces Continuation of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, Fifth Round of Food Purchases 

On January 4th, 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food for nationwide distribution through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The additional funding for the program was included in the COVID-19 relief package as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed December 21, 2020. In this fifth round of purchases, USDA will again purchase combination boxes to ensure all involved recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products, and seafood products will also be included in this round. 

More information can be found here 


USDA and HHS Release New Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 

On December 29ththe U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health & Human Services released the new dietary guidelines: “Make Every Bite Count.” The guidelines will be the basis for national health objectives, food assistance and meal programs and nutrition education efforts until the next edition of the guidelines comes out in 2025. 

More information about the guidelines can be found here.

USDA Declares Secretarial Disaster Declaration for Florida’s Leon, Gadsden Counties 

On December 22ndthe U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a Secretarial Disaster Declaration for a number of counties in the Florida panhandle, including Leon County and Gadsden County. As a result of the declaration, access to Farm Service Agency disaster loans for agriculture producers is now be available. Farmers in the designated counties have eight months from the designation date to apply for emergency loans. 

More information about the USDA Disaster Designation Information Site can be found here.


USDA, EPA and FDA Continue Joint Food Loss and Waste Reduction Efforts  

On December 17th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the renewal of the joint agency formal agreement  including the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. The agreement reaffirms the agencies’ commitment to improve coordination and communication efforts to better educate Americans on the impacts and importance of reducing food loss and waste. Food loss and waste negatively impact food security, the economy, communities, and the environment. 

More information can be found here.

Florida Wildlife Officials Shut Down Wild-oyster Harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through 2025 

On December 16thFlorida wildlife authorities voted to suspend wild oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through the end of 2025. Wild oyster harvesting had been suspended in the area since August, after an emergency executive order was put into place. To aid in this effort, the FWC also announced a $20 million grant to help conduct large-scale oyster habitat restoration from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefits Fund, which receives money from a settlement with BP and Transocean over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The closure will not apply to oyster aquaculture operations. 

More information can be found here.

Florida Senate Committees for 2020-2022 Have Been Assigned 

On December 3rd, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson released the composition of Senate Committees for the 2020-2022 session. The Florida Legislative Session begins March 2nd, 2021. 

Review the Senate committee assignments here

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