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Legislative News

For your member-exclusive AmericanHort updates click here, and your weekly legislative summary is here.

Advocacy Submits Comments On FMCSA’s Proposed Hours Of Service Of Drivers Amendments Rule

On August 22, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) published a proposed rule on Proposed Hours of Service of Drivers Amendments Rule. The proposed rule would provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to the Hours of Service (HOS) rules without, according to FMSCA, affecting safety.  The proposed rule would make five specific changes to the current...Read More

EPA Proposes WPS Application Exclusion Zone Updates

Per an announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA proposed narrow updates to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulation to improve the long-term success of the agency’s Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) provisions. Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, EPA will accept public comments on the proposed revisions for 90 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0543. Read More

AmericanHort welcomes Farm Workforce Modernization Act

On Oct. 30, AmericanHort Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge released the following statement upon House introduction of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. "AmericanHort congratulates our House champions on today’s introduction. This bipartisan compromise advances an important debate and provides a platform for serious consideration of urgently needed reforms addressing the agricultural sector...Read More

Silica/OSHA Enforcement: Proposed Penalty Assessment for Delaware, Ohio Foundry

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) issued an October 7th news release stating it cited Liberty Casting Company for certain alleged violations. Liberty is stated to operate a Delaware, Ohio foundry. OSHA inspectors are stated to have determined that Liberty...Read More

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Ohio Concrete Facility for Exposing Employees to Multiple Health and Safety Hazards

Mount Vernon,OH (WorkersCompensation.com) ? The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Prestress Services Industries of Ohio LLC for 20 safety and health violations at the concrete production plant in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The company faces penalties of $158,555. Inspectors determined that noise levels in the plant were above...Read More

Lawmakers Call for OSHA Emphasis Program After CDC Report on Silicosis Among Stone Fabrication Workers

Workers in the stone fabrication industry are facing an “emerging public health threat,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns in a recently released report showing an increase in cases of silicosis – an incurable lung disease – among workers who handle engineered stone used to make household countertops. Read More

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Overtime Rule

Today the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). "For the first time in over 15 years, America's workers will have an update to overtime regulations that will put overtime pay into the pockets of more than a million working Americans," Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella...Read More

Fate of H-2A Reform Legislation Uncertain

It is a 50-50 chance that bipartisan legislation to reform key aspects of the H-2A guest worker program will be considered by Congress this fall, says Craig Regelbrugge. Regelbrugge, senior vice president of public policy and government relations for Washington, D.C.-based AmericanHort, spoke about H-2A reform Sept. 25 at the 76th annual Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association convention. Read More

What You Need to Know About New Trucking Regulations

In late July, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it was seeking public comment on revising hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for delivery of agriculture commodities.  “The current regulations impose restrictions on the agriculture industry that lack the flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities...Read More

AmericanHort Formalizes Partnership With Consulting Firm

On Sept. 10, AmericanHort announced an expanded service agreement with K·Coe Isom, LLP, a food and agriculture consulting and accounting firm. “We’ve partnered with K·Coe Isom for years, in a more informal relationship and focused primarily around tax issues. We look forward to offering our members access to their in-depth expertise in a variety of advisory disciplines,” stated Ken Fisher, president and CEO of AmericanHort. Read More

ICE Audit: Document Request

A business owner from Georgia called me the other day, and requested guidance about how to prepare for an audit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Among other issues, I told him to read the issued Notice of Investigation very carefully and comply with its varied document requests.  As I told him, here is a basic list of standard documents typically requested by ICE...Read More

7 Things Growers Should Know About Proposed H-2A Reforms

In an effort to address grower complaints about the H-2A program, the White House recently initiated an interdepartmental process involving the four agencies that have a primary role in managing the program to seek improvements – the Departments of Labor, Homeland Security, State, and Agriculture.  “Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has been instrumental in the process,” according to Craig...Read More

Gov. Pritzker Announces Appointments to Committee for Agricultural Education

Building on a strong team of diverse experts in their fields, Governor JB Pritzker announced the following appointments in his administration: Erika Allen will serve on the Illinois Committee for Agricultural Education.* Allen is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Operations for the Urban Growers Collective and the Co-Owner of Green Era Sustainability Partners. She is a visual artist and consults...Read More 

Department of Labor Unveils New H-2A Proposal

The Department of Labor (DOL) has posted on its website a copy of the long-awaited H-2A modernization proposed rule. The official version was posted in the Federal Register July 26. The 134-page rule is available for review and comments from interested parties will be accepted on the Federal Register until Sept. 24. The modernization intends to streamline...Read More

Lawmakers Continue to Seek Labor Solutions for Ag

Labor and workforce issues continue to vex most greenhouse and nursery growers. We see both clouds and some glimmers of hope on the issue horizon. There is a possibility of helpful action by Congress, and both the threat of enforcement and the hope of helpful regulatory reform from the Trump administration. To better understand what’s possible, let’s unpack each of these possibilities. Read More

Trump Administration Seeks Clarity for Ag and Livestock Haulers

Regulators overseeing the trucking and agriculture industries will be looking to make it easier for haulers of agricultural commodities and livestock to comply with work rule regulations. An advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to be issued shortly by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was prompted by confusion...Read More

Support for Agricultural Trucking Relief Act Gears up

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Those in ag industry circles are hoping this is the case as ramped-up transportation and trucking regulations have been bearing down on business. The Agricultural Trucking Relief Act (S. 2025) might help clear the path. The new piece of legislation introduced by Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) would clearly define agricultural commodities...Read More  

Head for the Hill: Landscapers Lobby on Behalf of Green Industry Issues

Green industry professionals gathered on Capitol Hill early Wednesday morning to discuss pressing issues with their state representatives and congressmen, such as the ongoing issues with the H-2B non-immigrant visa program and pesticide regulations. The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) hosted a pre-meeting breakfast and briefed attendees on the aforementioned topics...Read More

Sen. Rand Paul Proposes Bill to Streamline H-2A Process

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced the Paperwork Reduction for Farmers and H-2A Modernization Act (S. 1887), a bill providing regulatory relief to Kentucky’s agriculture community by reducing red tape and streamlining temporary agriculture worker visa programs. By allowing certain categories of temporary workers currently under the capped H-2B program, such as those in the landscaping...Read More

USDA Modernizes Plant Pest Regulations, Improves Customer Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has published a final rule to revise the regulations in Title 7 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 330 that govern the movement of plant pests. The final rule aligns plant pest regulations with current APHIS policies, removes obsolete requirements, streamlines the permit process for low...Read More

AmericanHort Announces 2019 Impact Washington Summit

AmericanHort recently announced the 2019 Impact Washington Summit will be held September 16-18 in Washington, D.C. to unite leaders across the green industry. Speakers will discuss the issues facing the industry and educate Congress on the industry's challenges and priorities. The 2019 Summit will feature a program of senior administration officials, leaders in the non-profit community, as well as...Read More

EPA Cancels Registrations of 12 Neonic Pesticides

On May 20, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published notice in the Federal Register canceling the registrations of 12 neonicotinoid-containing pesticides (neonics). This cancelation was the result of a lawsuit settlement reached by the agency with several environmental groups. The lawsuit settlement also requires that EPA conduct a review of all neonics, so there could be more registration cancellations...Read More

USDA Publishes 2018 Floriculture Crops Summary

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently published the 2018 Floriculture Crops Summary — a report that came about as a direct result of lobbying by the Society of American Florists and meetings in Washington, D.C., between SAF members and their lawmakers during the group’s annual Congressional Action Days. The report provides reliable benchmarks to identify market trends and project sales...Read More

AmericanHort Welcomes New Board Members, New Slate of Officers

AmericanHort announces the election of three new members to the board of directors, along with the installation of a new slate of officers. These individuals are from across the horticulture industry and encompass various experiences, skills and backgrounds. The official welcome will take place at Cultivate’19, July 13-16, in Columbus, Ohio. “It’s important that all segments of our industry are represented...Read More

AmericanHort, HRI Seek Grower Input on Neonicotinoids

AmericanHort and the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) seek to better understand the industry's usage of the following nitroguanidine neonicotinoids: Clothianidin (Arena), Dinotefuran (Safari), Imidacloprid (Merit, Marathon, others)...Read More

AmericanHort Issues Timely Update on Additional 30,000 H-2B Visas

The Departments of Homeland Security and Labor (DOL) plan to officially release a rule on Wednesday, May 8, that kicks off an application process for an additional 30,000 H-2B visas for fiscal 2019. According to a statement from AmericanHort, these visas will be limited to returning workers who received H-2B visas in one or more of the previous three fiscal years (2016, 2017, or 2018). Read More

EPA Releases Draft Guidelines for Plant Regulators

In recognition of the growing categories of products generally known as plant biostimulants, this draft document gives guidance on which products are (and are not) subject to regulation under FIFRA as plant regulator pesticides, and what kinds of claims can be made for them. The draft guidance provides examples of each. EPA is taking this step to provide clarity to our state....Read More

Industry Veterans Take Lead Roles at BASF, Profile Products, AmericanHort

BASF, Profile Products, and AmericanHort are among the several organizations who have boosted their management teams over the last month. As part of a strategic effort to support the ornamentals market, BASF has named Jennie Smith as the new Greenhouse & Nursery Sales Manager and Biologicals Team Lead in the company’s Professional & Specialty Solutions group. Read More

USDA Update on Farm Bill Implementation Progress

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the implementation status of the 2018 Farm Bill. President Trump signed this Farm Bill into law on December 20th, 2018, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) promptly began implementation of key programs. USDA held several listening sessions with stakeholders and the public, specific to each agency’s respective mission areas. Read More

Government Affairs: Are you ready for the new federal overtime rule?

On March 7, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed regulations concerning the much-anticipated revised threshold for workers exempt from overtime pay. The rule proposes to raise the minimum salary threshold for employees exempt from overtime pay to $679 per week ($35,308 annually) from the current $455 per week ($23,660 annually), an increase...Read More

AmericanHort Welcomes More Seasonal Worker Visas

AmericanHort is very pleased to report that on March 29, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it plans to release an additional 30,000 H-2B workers for returning immigrant workers. This progress would not have happened without the steady advocacy push by our advocacy team, industry leaders, association members, state association partners, and like-minded industries participating in the H-2B Workforce Coalition...Read More

H-2B Lottery System Modified for Applications This July

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced updates to its procedures for processing H-2B applications. Because of the intense competition for H-2B visas in recent years, there have been challenges to handle the increasingly large volume of H-2B applications filed on January 1 of each year. As a result of stakeholder comments and the most recent filing period...Read More

Congress Must Clarify Trucking Regulations for Agricultural Products

When it comes to government regulations, clear wording and definitions are a must to those who must comply with the rules. Such is the case with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) hours of service (HOS) and electronic logging device (ELD) regulations for the trucking industry implemented in late 2017. Inconsistencies and a lack of clarity in the regulations has led to confusion and higher costs...Read More

Trucking: Agriculture Commodity Bill Introduced

Representative Austin Scott (R-GA) introduced H.R. 1673, The Agricultural Trucking Relief Act of 2019, last week. H.R. 1673 would provide clarity for the definition of “agricultural commodity” as it relates to transportation policy and compliance with new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and the Hours of Service (HOS) rules and regulations. Scott, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee...Read More

DOL Announces Long-Awaited Proposed OT Rule

As a follow up to our March 4th blog, three days later the DOL announced a proposed OT rule increasing the minimum salary required for an employee to qualify for exemption from federal overtime pay requirements. The proposed increase in salary level is from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $679 per week ($35,308 annually). In addition, the proposed rule includes the following...Read More

AmericanHort Supports Need to Release Additional H-2B Visas

AmericanHort strongly encourages the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to exercise her authority to release the nearly 70,000 additional temporary, non-immigrant H-2B visas in excess of the statutory annual cap of 66,000. On March 4, 2019 a bipartisan group of 27 Senators and 110 Representatives printed a letter from the Congress of the United States to Kirstjen Nielsen...Read More

Is H-2B Reform Stuck in a Time Loop?

For those of you who have seen the Bill Murray classic movie, “Groundhog Day,” the H-2B saga seems reminiscent. As part of the deal to end the partial shutdown of the federal government, H-2B advocates in Washington secured language in the bipartisan compromise appropriations bill to allow the secretary of homeland security, in consultation with the secretary of labor, to increase the number of H-2B visas...Read More

How You Can Work With AmericanHort to Be a Voice for the Industry

At AmericanHort, we represent the horticulture industry within government and with legislators on important issues that affect our future success. Our advocacy team works diligently to improve labor, transportation, and the regulatory environment to make it easier to run your business. But it’s important that we work together to ensure our industry’s continued growth and success for generations to come. Read More

H-2B Cap Limit Met for Rest of Fiscal Year

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2019. Feb. 19, 2019, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before Oct. 1, 2019. Any new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Feb. 19 that request employment in that time span...Read More

USDA Announces $66 Million for Pest and Disease Management Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating $66 million to support 407 projects that will strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, threat mitigation and safeguard the nursery production system. Also included is $6 million for the National Clean Plant Network that will support...Read More

USDA Provides $66 Million in Fiscal Year 2019 to Protect Agriculture and Natural Resources from Plant Pests and Diseases

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating $66 million to support 407 projects that will strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, threat mitigation, and safeguard the nursery production system. USDA provides funding for these projects under the authority of the Plant...Read More

Status Checks on H-2B and New Pesticide Rules

After a 35-day partial government shutdown, Congress passed a temporary three-week spending bill without — you guessed it — H-2B reform language. It was a long shot that H-2B would be included in the temporary spending bill, but advocates for the program, including AmericanHort and the National Association of Landscape Professionals put on a full-court...Read More