New regs for Wednesday: Farm loans, brick masons, retired reserves, raw meat labels

Wednesday’s edition of the Federal Register contains new rules from the Department of Agriculture for farm loans, additional time from the Environmental Protection Agency to comment on emission standards for brick masons, a heath care plan for retired reserves, and new labeling rules for raw meat from the Food and Drug Administration.

Here’s a look at what is happening:

Farm loans: The Department of Agriculture is making changes to the Farm Loan Program that are required by the 2014 Farm Bill.


The agency is increasing the percentage of guarantee from 75 percent to 90 percent for conservation loans for a qualified beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers, lowering the interest rate for joint farm ownership loans from 5 percent to 2.5 percent, and eliminating the oil, gas and mineral appraisal requirement for all farm loan programs.

The rule also increases the maximum loan amount for down payment farm ownership loans from $225,000 to $300,000 and eliminates the rural residency rule for youth loans. Eligible youth ages 10 to 20 can receive loans up to $5,000 to finance income producing and agricultural related projects.

The rule will take effect immediately.

Off-Road vehicles: The Consumer Product Safety Commission has changed the location of its meeting on recreational off-road vehicle regulations that have been proposed to reduce the risk of injury.

The meeting will be held on Jan. 7. in Hearing Room 4 of the Bethesda Towers Building at 4330 East-West Highway, Bethesda, Md.

The pubic is invited to come and make comments on the proposed rule.


Retired Reserves healthcare: The Department of Defense is issuing a final rule that will give retired reserve service members who qualify for non-regular retirement at age 60 access to healthcare.

Tricare is a premium-based healthcare plan that will be available to qualified members of the retired reserve who are not enrolled or not eligible to enroll in a military benefits plan, as well as survivors of Tricare Retired Reserve members. The health plan’s coverage features deductibles, cost sharing and catastrophic cap provisions. Two types of coverage will be available: member-only coverage or member and family coverage.           

The rule will take effect in 30 days.

Brick masons: The Environmental Protection Agency is extending the public comment period on its proposal to set national emission standards for manufacturers of brick and structural clay products.

The EPA has estimated compliance costs for manufacturers to be over $55 million initially and close to $20 million annually. But the agency said the benefits of these new standards could save the public $26 million and $96 million in environmental and healthcare costs in the long run.

The public has an additional 30 days to comment. Written remarks are due by March 19.

Ozone hearings: The Environmental Protection Agency will hold three public hearings over the next two months on stricter standards for ozone pollution that causes smog.

The EPA has proposed reducing the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone from 75 parts per billion to a level within the 65 to 70 parts per billion range.

Public hearings will be held in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 29 and in Sacramento, Calif., On Feb. 2.

Meat labels: The Food and Drug Administration is issuing a final rule that will require meat packers to label raw meat and poultry products that contain added solutions and that do not meet a standard of identity.

The description has to include the percentage of solution added and list the individual ingredients used in descending order by weight. The rule also prohibits the word “enhanced”  from being used in the product name.

 “Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), the labels of meat and poultry products must be truthful and not misleading, and the labels must accurately disclose to consumers what they are buying when they purchase any meat or poultry product,” the FDA said in its rulemaking.

The rule will take effect Jan. 1.