Thursday, December 1, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—December 1, 2016

Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Labor: Court Blocks New Overtime Regulations
On November 22, 2016, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas granted an Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction enjoining the Department of Labor from implementing and enforcing the Overtime Final Rule scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016 (State of Nevada ET AL v. United States Department of Labor ET AL No: 4:16-CV-00731).  According to the court, the preliminary injunction was issued because “[t]he State Plaintiffs have established a prima facie case that the Department’s salary level under the Final Rule and the automatic updating mechanism are without statutory authority.” If permitted to go into effect, the new rule would have increased the number of “white collar” workers eligible for overtime pay.

Labeling: FDA Announces Compliance Date for Food Labeling Regulations
On November 25, 2016, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in the Federal Register that the agency “is establishing January 1, 2020, as the uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations that are issued between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018” (81 FR 85156).  According to FDA, the agency coordinates and periodically announces the effective dates of labeling changes to lessen “the cumulative economic impact on the food industry of having to respond separately to each change.”

Pesticides: Court Dismisses Beekeeper Complaint
On November 21, 2016, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a complaint brought by beekeepers and environmentalist to compel the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides (Anderson v. EPA, Case No. 3:16-cv-00068-WHA).  According to the Plaintiffs, EPA allegedly failed “to enforce the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act with respect to such seeds.” In dismissing the complaint, the court stated that “[t]he court is most sympathetic to the plight of our bee population and beekeepers…[and] [p]erhaps the EPA should have done more to protect them, but such policy decisions are for the agency to make.”

Spotted Lanternfly: PDA Announces Addendum to the Order of Quarantine
On November 26, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) published notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin of an Addendum to the Order of Quarantine published at 44 Pa.B. 6947 issued Saturday, November 1, 2014 regarding the spotted lanternfly (46 Pa.B. 7449).  According to PDA, the spotted lanternfly is considered a “dangerous insect to forests, ornamental trees, orchards and grapes…[and as a result] [a] quarantine is hereby established with respect to Union Township, Ruscombmanor Township, Richmond Township, Maiden Creek Township, Fleetwood Borough, Robeson Township, Centre Township, Centreport Borough, Birdsboro Borough in Berks County, Quakertown Borough, Richland Township, Richlandtown Borough in Bucks County, North Coventry Township, Spring City Borough, East Coventry Township, East Vincent Township in Chester County, Bethlehem City in Lehigh County, Bethlehem City in Northampton County, and Lower Fredrick Township, Pottstown Borough, Royersford Borough, Limerick Township, Upper Providence Township, Upper Pottsgrove Township, Upper Salford Township in Montgomery County.”

Food Safety: UK Establishes Food Crime Reporting Facility
On November 28, 2016, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Food Safety Agency’s (FSA’s) National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) issued a press release announcing the availability of the Food Crime Confidential reporting facility which now enables “anyone with suspicions about food crime [to] report them safely and in confidence, over the phone or through email.” According to the press release, “[f]ood crime involves dishonesty at any stage in the production or supply of food.” As a result, NFCU works with partners to protect people from serious criminal activity that impacts the safety or authenticity of food and drink they consume…[and the Food Crime Confidential] facility is particularly targeted at those working in or around the UK food industry.” 

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—November 22, 2016

Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Zoning: Court Says Horse Farm Excluded from Land Development Requirement
On November 21, 2016, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania filed an unreported opinion ruling that  a proposed Upper Saucon Township (Lehigh County, Pennsylvania) equine operation qualifies as a farm under the Township’s ordinances and is therefore exempt from submitting a land development plan (Ebert v. Upper Saucon Township, 2016 WL 6833081).  According to the court, under the Township’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) farms are excluded from the requirement of submitting a land development plan.  Additionally, both SALDO and the Township’s Zoning Ordinance contain language defining a farm to include the raising of livestock and that “[a] ‘farm’ shall be understood to include a dwelling unit as well as all structures necessary for the housing of animals, storage of feed and equipment, and other operations customarily incidental to farm use.” The Township argued that because the proposed equine operation only consisted of a barn, six permanent horse run-ins, and access roads, but did not include a dwelling, a land development plan must be submitted in order to obtain a zoning permit for the proposed barn construction.  The court disagreed and held that “[r]ead as a whole, it is clear the intent of the definition was to ensure that a property was not excluded from the definition of a farm merely because it contained a dwelling unit.”

Realty Transfer Tax: Governor Signs Law Exempting Preserved Farms
On November 21, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law legislation clarifying recent changes made to the Tax Reform Code regarding the taxation of Agricultural Conservation Easements (Act 175).  According to the House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda, previously, “the Department of Revenue [had] taken the position that agricultural conservation easements were not subject to the Realty Transfer Tax [RTT] since they were not “true easements.” Nevertheless, in 2014 a Tax Appeal decision found that a conservation easement was subject to RTT and “cast doubt on whether other agricultural conservation easements would also be subject to the RTT.” To provide clarity, “the tax code portion of this year’s budget added language to specifically exempt agricultural conservation easements from the RTT…[but] the new language did not include a retroactive effective date.” Under Act 175, the RTT exemption for agricultural conservation easements applies retroactively to January 1, 2013.

Dairy: PA Milk Marketing Board Reschedules Meeting
On November 19, 2016, the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board published notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin that the December 7, 2016, meeting of the Milk Marketing Board has been rescheduled for December 8, 2016, at 12 p.m. in Room 202, Agriculture Building, Harrisburg, PA 17110 (46 Pa.B. 7422). 

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—November 17, 2016

Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

WOTUS: Members of Congress File Amicus Brief Opposing EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Final Rule
On November 8, 2016, twenty-one members of the U.S. Senate and sixty-seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives filed an amicus brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals calling for the court to vacate the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to redefine the Federal Water Pollution Control Act’s term “navigable waters” (Murray Energy Corp., et al. v. U.S. Environmental Agency, et al., Case:15-3751 Document: 138).  According to the brief, “the Agencies are encroaching on traditional state authorities over land use and water quantity (as opposed to water quality), contrary to the clear text and intent of the [Federal Water Pollution Control Act] 1972 Amendments, its legislative history, and the Supreme Court’s decision in SWANCC, which warned that such an attempt to expand agency jurisdiction should receive no judicial deference.”

Right to Farm: Oklahoma Voters Reject Constitutional Amendment
On November 8, 2016, Oklahoma voters defeated a proposal to amend the state constitution to include the right to farm and ranch (State Question 777). The defeated proposed amendment would have provided Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers with a guarantee right to make use of: (1) agricultural technology; (2) livestock procedures; and (3) ranching practices.  According to the opponents of State Question 777, the amendment “would [have been] used to prevent the state and local governments from passing laws to protect small farmers and provide reasonable regulations regarding food and water quality, environmental protections, and animal cruelty…[and] would [have] give[n] large, corporate farms an advantage over small, local farms.” 

Labeling: USDA Announces Nutrition Facts Label Compliance
On November 16, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a notice in the Federal Register entitled: Nutrition Facts Label Compliance (81 FR 80631).  According to FSIS, the agency is currently in the process of rulemaking to update the Nutrition Facts label format for meat and poultry products.  Until the final rule is published, FSIS stated that “establishments may voluntarily choose to use the Nutrition Facts label format that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently finalized (“Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement facts labels”, May 27, 2016; 81 FR 33742; and “Food Labeling: Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably be Consumed at One-Eating Occasion; Dual-Column Labeling; Updating, Modifying, and Establishing Certain Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed; Serving Size for Breath Mints; and Technical Amendments”; May 27, 2016; 81 FR 34000).” According to FSIS, “[a]s long as the information on the labels is still truthful and not misleading, FSIS will not find noncompliance if companies use the FDA format.”

Water: NRCS Announces Availability of Soil Erodibility System Calculations
On November 17, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) published notice in the Federal Register entitled: Notice of Implementation of the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) Technology for Soil Erodibility System Calculations for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (81 FR 81053).  According to NRCS, the notice announces “the intention of NRCS to implement the WEPP technology to replace the use of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, Version 2 (RUSLE2), where applicable.” The comment period regarding the proposed change closes December 19, 2016.

Pesticides: EPA Revises Chlorpyrifos Health Risks
On November 10, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the agency has revised its analysis of the human health risks from chlorpyrifos.  According to EPA, “[t]he revised analysis indicates that expected residues of chlorpyrifos on most individual food crops exceed the “reasonable certainty of no harm” safety standard under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).  As a result, “EPA is announcing and inviting comment on additional information obtained and developed by EPA in conjunction with the proposed tolerance revocation for chlorpyrifos.” 

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—November 10, 2016

Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Clean and Green: Commonwealth Court Rules Tax Sale is not a Split-off
On November 7, 2016, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania determined that a landowner’s failure to pay property taxes, which resulted in a tax-upset sale, was not a “split-off” under the Pennsylvania Clean and Green program and did not trigger the roll-back tax penalty (A. Maula v. Northampton County of Assessment and County of Northampton - 1341 C.D. 2015).  For a more details, please see previous Center article. 

Animal Welfare: Massachusetts Voters Approve Animal Containment Law
On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voters approved an animal welfare ballot initiative entitled: The Massachusetts Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment.  Also known as Question 3, the new law prohibits “breeding pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens from being held in confined spaces…[and] applie[s] to business owners who knowingly sell pork, veal, or eggs from animals held in this way, even if the source is outside of Massachusetts.” 

FSMA: FDA Releases Draft Guidance for Food Facility Registration
On November 7, 2016, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a guidance document entitled: Draft Guidance forIndustry: Questions and Answers Regarding Food Facility Registration (Seventh Edition).  Jointly prepared by the Office of Compliance in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Office of Surveillance and Compliance in the Center for Veterinary Medicine, and the Office of Regulatory Affairs at FDA, the guidance document was developed to answer frequently asked questions relating to the registration requirements of section 415 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

FSMA: FDA Releases Guidance for Voluntary Qualified Importer Program
On November 10, 2016, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a guidance document entitled: Guidance for Industry:FDA's Voluntary Qualified Importer Program.  The guidance document describes FDA’s policy regarding participation in FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) by importers of food for humans or animals, and provides guidance on: (1) The benefits VQIP importers can expect to receive; (2) The eligibility criteria for VQIP participation; (3) Instructions for completing a VQIP application; (4) Conditions that may result in revocation of participation in VQIP; and (5) Criteria for VQIP reinstatement following revocation. 

Tax Legislation: PA Amends the Local Tax Enabling Act
On November 4, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Act 150 which amends the Commonwealth’s Local Tax Enabling Act (SB 356).  The amendments included a provision for the definition of the term "farming" and language that incorporates farmer estimated tax provisions to parallel those used by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

Specialty Crops: PA Awarded $925,000 in Federal Grants
On November 8, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) issued a press release announcing that “[t]wenty-one Pennsylvania projects will strengthen the state’s specialty crop industries through research, education, and marketing with nearly $925,000 in federal grants.” According to PDA, “[t]he projects address a range of agricultural priorities like food safety, producer education, plant pest research, and consumer connection to agriculture through farm-to-school curricula.” Included among the awards was a $20,000 grant for the Center for Agricultural and Shale Law to conduct workshops to teach producers about federal and state labor laws that have potential applications to their operations.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Clean and Green Update: Court Rules Tax Sale is not a Split-off

Written by M. Sean High—Staff Attorney

On November 7, 2016, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania determined that a landowner’s failure to pay property taxes, which resulted in a tax-upset sale, was not a “split-off” under the Pennsylvania Clean and Green program and did not trigger the roll-back tax penalty (A. Maula v. Northampton County of Assessment and County of Northampton - 1341 C.D. 2015).

Under the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act of 1974 (commonly known as Clean and Green) qualifying Pennsylvania farmers and woodland owners have the opportunity to receive preferential tax assessments based on land use (72 P.S. §§ 5409.1 – 5409.13).  Participants, however, may be subject roll-back taxes if the landowner conducts a “split-off” which is a division of land enrolled in Clean and Green where one or more of the tracts no longer meet program requirements.  

According to the court, on April 22, 2009, Anthony Maula (Maula) owned one contiguous tract of land which consisted of three separate parcels: Parcel A (26.7 acres); Parcel B (55.2 acres); and Parcel C (2.88 acres).  On April 22, 2009, Maula enrolled the entire tract (Parcels A, B, and C) for preferential tax assessment under the Clean and Green program.

The court stated that for the years 2011, 2012, and 2013, Maula did not pay property taxes on Parcel C for an amount totaling $266.12.  Subsequently, on September 24, 2013, Northampton County (County) sold Parcel C at a tax sale to pay the back taxes. 

On March 21, 2014, pursuant to the tax sale, the County conveyed title to Parcel C to a third party.  On July 11, 2014, the County Tax Assessment Office learned that Parcel C had been conveyed to a third party and determined that it was an impermissible split-off because Parcel C no longer met Clean and Green requirements of being either ten acres or generating a yearly gross agricultural income of $2,000.  As a result, the County notified Maula that roll-back taxes were due and owing on Parcels A, B, and C in the amount of $55,757.61.

The court disagreed with the County and held that “the sale of Parcel C at an upset sale did not constitute an impermissible split-off because it was not a division of a larger tract ‘by conveyance or other action of the owner’” as required by Clean and Green 72 P.S. § 5490.2.  According the court, the conveyance of Parcel C “was actually performed by the County via the tax sale…[and that] [i]t would be a strained statutory construction to impose liability on a landowner for purportedly allowing a conveyance to occur when a third party performs the conveyance, not the landowner.” 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—November 3, 2016

Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Food Law: PA Supreme Court Decides Not to Use Power to Hear Phila. Soft Drink Tax Challenge
On November 2, 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied a motion requesting an exercise of King’s Bench Powers to hear a challenge to Philadelphia City’s recently passed tax on sweetened beverages (Williams, et al., Pets. v. City of Phila., et al. - No. 148 EM 2016).  Scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2017, the tax is being contested by beverage retailers and distributors on grounds that it unlawfully generates revenue for Philadelphia at the expense the state.   Because the court chose not to take-up the case under its plenary jurisdiction, the case continues in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Food Safety: FDA Issues FSMA Draft Guidance Document for Describing a Hazard
On October 28, 2016, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a document entitled:  Draft Guidance for Industry: Describing a Hazard That Needs Control in Documents Accompanying the Food, as Required by Four Rules Implementing FSMA. According to FDA, “[t]his guidance is intended for any entity that is subject to certain provisions (in part 117, part 507, the produce safety regulation, or the FSVP regulation) that require a disclosure statement, in documents accompanying food, that certain hazards have not been controlled by that entity.”  FDA stated that the document contains non-binding recommendations and is being distributed for comment purposes only.

Food Safety: FDA Issues FSMA Guidance Documents
On October 31, 2016, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a document entitled: Guidance for Industry: What You Need to Know About the FDA Regulation: Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food; Small Entity Compliance Guide.  According to FDA, “[t]his guide was developed to inform domestic and foreign food facilities about the [Preventive Controls for Human Food] regulation and how to comply with it.” Additionally, on October 31, 2016, FDA issued a document entitled: Guidance for Industry: Small Entity Compliance Guide - Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals.  According to FDA, “[t]he intent of this guide is to inform domestic and foreign animal food facilities about the [Preventive Controls for Food for Animals] regulations and enable them to better understand the requirements of the rule.”

Equine: PA Governor Signs Law Reinstating Breeding Fund Payments
On October 28, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe signed legislation reforming the Pennsylvania Breeding Fund (HB 2303).  According to a press release issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the new law “fixes an unintended consequence of the equine racing industry reforms enacted in February 2016 that changed the criteria for payments under the state Breeding Fund award program…[which historically had] awarded breeders of registered Pennsylvania-bred thoroughbred horses that placed first, second or third in races at the state’s licensed racing tracks.”  The press release stated that the February 2016 reforms “inadvertently changed the eligibility criteria for those awards, removing the Pennsylvania-bred requirement and instead only required winning horses to have been sired in the state.” As a result, the “unintended change essentially rendered the program unable to be administered, thus preventing the payment of awards earned since Feb. 23, 2016.” HB 2303 restored the program’s qualifications to their original form for both the remainder of 2016 and retroactive to February 2016.

GMOs: APHIS Approves Two Biotech Potatoes
On October 28, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that the agency had approved two genetically engineered J.R. Simplot Company potatoes.  Known as Ranger Russet variety (X17) and Atlantic variety (Y9), the two potatoes have been genetically engineered for: (1) late blight resistance; (2) low acrylamide potential; (3) reduced black spot bruising; and (4) lowered reducing sugars.  According to APHIS, the two varieties do not pose a risk to the environment and/or plant pests.

International Trade: Canada and EU Sign CETA Trade Deal   
On October 30, 2016, the European Commission (EC) announced that the European Union and Canada had signed a trade agreement, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).  According to EC, CETA will eliminate 99% of tariffs and create new opportunities for EU farmers and food producers by increasing exports of “cheese, wine and spirits, fruit and vegetables, processed products and geographical indications” while at the same time fully protecting the sensitivities of the EU by requiring that Canada satisfy EU rules and regulations.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—October 27, 2016

Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney

The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Animal Welfare: USDA Announces Intent to Hold Livestock Owners, Transporters, and Haulers Responsible for Inhumane Handling
On October 26, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published notice in the Federal Register of a final determination and opportunity to comment regarding the agency’s “intent to hold livestock owners, transporters, haulers and other persons not employed by an official establishment responsible if they commit acts involving inhumane handling of livestock in connection with slaughter when on the premises of an official establishment” (81 FR74280).  According to the notice, the comment period closes November 25, 2016 and “FSIS will implement the actions discussed in this document on January 24, 2017, unless FSIS receives comments that demonstrate a need to revise this date.”

GMO Labeling: USDA Seeks Proposals to Study Electronic or Digital Link Disclosure
On October 19, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) issued a press release requesting the submission of “proposals to conduct a Study on the Electronic or Digital Link Disclosure.”  According to USDA, “[t]he study is required by the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (Pub. L. 114-216) to identify potential technological challenges that may impact whether consumers would have access to a bioengineered food disclosure on food packages through electronic or digital methods.”

Animal Welfare: U.N. Committee Approves New Animal Health and Welfare Policy
On October 21, 2016, the United Nations Committee of World Food Security approved new policy recommendations regarding animal health and welfare (CFS 2016/43/2/Rev.1).  The recommendations include: (1) providing access to veterinary services and medication; (2) improved biosafety and biosecurity; (3) prudent use and phase-out of antibiotics; and (4) promoting good feed.  Additionally, the policy calls for the improved delivery of the World Organization for Animal Health’s Five Freedoms which include: (1) freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; (2) freedom from fear and distress; (3) freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; (4) freedom from pain, injury or disease; and (5) freedom to express normal patterns of behavior. 

Biofuels: New York Mayor Signs Law Increasing Percentage of Biodiesel in Heating Oil
On October 18, 2016, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a press release announcing that he had signed into law legislation designed to increase the ratio of biodiesel in heating oil sold in the City.  According to the new law, New York City  now “requires heating oil sold or used in the City to contain: 5% biodiesel, by volume, starting October 1, 2017; 10%, starting October 1, 2025; 15%, starting October 1, 2030; [and] 20%, starting October 1, 2034” (2016/119).

Dog Breeding: PDA Announces Intent to Rescind Commercial Kennel Canine Health Regulation
On October 22, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) published notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin of the department’s intention to rescind Commercial Kennel Canine Health Regulation § 28a.8(5) relating to flooring (46 Pa.B. 6646).  According to PDA, § 28a.8(5) currently states: “Nursing mothers. Primary enclosures, including whelping boxes, housing bitches with nursing litters or housing dams or foster dams with puppies under 12 weeks of age must be constructed so that at least 50% of the flooring of the primary enclosure complies with the standards established under section 207(i)(3) of the act.” The notice stated that the “Commonwealth Court recently determined that § 28a.8(5) directly contradicts express statutory provisions of the [Pennsylvania Dog Law (3 P.S. §§ 459-101—459-1205)] and violates the legislative intent.”  PDA stated that “[t]his determination was made on September 9, 2016, in BarbaraKeith et al. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Agriculture (394 M.D. 2014).”

Farmland Preservation: PDA Announces Availability of Federal Funds to Protect Commonwealth’s Farms
On October 21, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) issued a press release announcing that “[a]n agreement between the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) and Pennsylvania’s nation-leading farmland preservation program will again give the state access to millions of federal dollars to help preserve the state’s best and most threatened farmland.” According to PDA, “Pennsylvania has been without a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) since 2014 when the last Farm Bill became law, changing the terms of the federal program.”

Loans: USDA Announces Streamlined Loans for Small Operators
On October 20, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a press release announcing that the agency was making available “a streamlined version of USDA guaranteed loans, which are tailored for smaller scale farms and urban producers.”  According to USDA, “[t]he program, called EZ Guarantee Loans, uses a simplified application process to help beginning, small, underserved and family farmers and ranchers apply for loans of up to $100,000 from USDA-approved lenders to purchase farmland or finance agricultural operations.”