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Policy quick hits: Alabama says no to lab meat

Also: Canadian rail strike looms and the House considers digital assets.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

May 13, 2024

3 Min Read
U.S. capitol building with flag background
Getty Images/franckreporter

There was lots going on last week including more details on a potential new farm bill, additional steps to combat avian influenza, and another state taking on lab-grown meat. Also, much to my colleague Jacqueline Holland’s disappointment, the Dallas Stars continue to beat up on the Colorado Avs in the NHL playoffs. More trash talking to come on that later this week (hopefully).

Here are a few things you may have missed recently from the ag world.

Ag groups worried by potential Canadian rail strike

More than 20 trade associations signed a May 9 letter to Canada’s Minister of Labor Seamus O’Regan calling on that nation to avert a potential railroad strike. They say a rail stoppage would lead to shutdowns or slowdowns of rail-dependent facilities, resulting in devastating consequences to national and global food security. If negotiations fail, they say Canada’s government should declare rail an essential service, thereby averting a strike.

“Our memberships rely on freight rail to move essential products across Canada and the U.S. and a disruption to Canadian National Railway (CN) and CPKC’s rail service could ripple across North America,” the letter says. “The impact of a strike would be particularly severe as trucking is not a viable option for many shippers due to their high-volume needs and the long distances for many of the movements.”

Ag groups signing on to the letter included the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Corn Growers Association and The Fertilizer Institute, among others.

Earlier this month, workers at Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Kansas City voted to go on strike as early as May 22. O’Regan subsequently asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board to determine if a strike would harm public safety.

Per Canadian law, rail workers may not go on strike until the board reaches a decision.

House to consider digital asset legislation

The House appears set to vote on new legislation governing digital assets. On Friday, the House Committee on Rules announced it had cleared the way for a floor vote on the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act.

Commonly referred to as the FIT21 Act, the bill was introduced last summer by Agriculture Committee Chair Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson and Reps. French Hill, R- Ark., Dusty Johnson, R- S.D., Tom Emmer, R- Minn., and Warren Davidson, R- Ohio. House Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry is also a cosponsor.

According to them, the legislation will establish “clear and functional requirements” over digital asset markets. It will require digital asset developers to provide accurate, relevant disclosures. Exchanges, brokers and dealers will be subject to new disclosure requirements. The bills’ language also aims to better segregate customer funds from their own and reduce conflicts of interest.

Thompson calls FIT21 a regulator foundation that will safeguard customers and investors while also propelling American leadership in digital finance.

“Our collaborative effort establishes the essential clarity and security needed to foster innovation and ensure our nation's prominence in the global technological revolution,” he says. “This is the product of extensive feedback from stakeholder and market participants and historic coordination with the Financial Services Committee. This legislation is desperately needed, and I am excited to be able to advance that effort today.”

Alabama becomes second state to ban cultivated meat

Following Florida’s lead, Alabama became the second state to ban sales of lab-grown meat. Starting Oct. 1, it will be a Class C misdemeanor in the state to sell, manufacture or distribute food produced from cultured animal cells. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the legislation on May 7 after it was overwhelmingly passed by the state’s House and Senate.

Violators face fines of between $100 and $10,000, though some research on cultivated meat products will still be allowed.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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