Vilsack extends the dietary guidelines comment period

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell have decided to extend the comment period on the report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee dietary guidelines for an additional 30 days until May 8.

The original comment period was 45 days, which was longer than 30-day comment period on the report in 2010.

At a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Vilsack said he and Burwell were considering lengthening the comment period but that they could not make it as long as some industry executives had proposed because they want to finish the guidelines in calendar year 2015.

On Monday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking members of those committees, sent Vilsack and Mathews a letter asking for a 30-day extension.

“It is vital that the dietary guidelines are based on sound science and remain independent, unbiased, and nonpolitical in nature,” the senators wrote.

“This advisory committee report included recommendations that are notably different from previous guidelines, which will require additional time to develop thoughtful feedback.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, noted that he and House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee Chairwoman Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer, R-N.C. had asked for a 120-day comment period.

“While I appreciate some recognition of the complexity of the issues presented by extending the comment period,” Conaway said in a news release. “I must once again call on the secretaries to commit to a process wherein those comments will be fully reviewed and considered.”

–The Hagstrom Report