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USDA Considers Modifying Rules to Ease Regulatory Burden

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Agriculture is accepting through March 28 public comments on which of its regulations should be modified, expanded, streamlined or repealed to minimize the burden on individuals, businesses and communities for participation in and compliance with USDA programs. The 2015 fall regulatory agenda provides a summary of the USDA regulations under development or review during the coming year, and USDA’s 2015 statement of regulatory priorities provides a list of important regulatory actions that the department is considering for issuance in proposed or final form during fiscal year 2016.

USDA states that it is particularly interested in public comments that speak to areas in which it can reduce costs and reporting burdens on the public through technological advances or other modernization efforts. It is also looking for comments on measures that can be taken to reduce burdens and increase regulatory flexibility through techniques that may include the following.

- pilot projects, which can be used to test regulatory approaches

- safe harbors, which are streamlined modes of regulatory compliance and can serve to reduce compliance costs

- sunset provisions, which terminate a rule after a certain date

- trigger provisions, which specify one or more threshold indicators that the rule is designed to address

- phase-ins, which allow the rule to be phased in for different groups at different times

- streamlined requirements, which provide exemptions or other streamlined requirements if a particular entity (e.g., a small business) may otherwise experience disproportionate burden from a rule

- state flexibilities, which provide greater flexibility to states or other regulatory partners (e.g., giving them freedom to implement alternative regulatory approaches)

- exceptions, which allow exceptions to part of the rule or the entire rule in cases where there is a potential or suspected unintended consequence

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