Thursday, May 16, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—May 16, 2019


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:

Pesticides: California Jury Awards Couple Over $2 Billion Due to Roundup Use
On May 13, 2019, a California jury awarded a husband and wife over $2 billion in damages against Monsanto due to alleged harm caused by the company’s glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup (Pilliod, et al. v. Monsanto Company, et al. Case No RG17862702).  The plaintiffs, Alva and Alberta Pilliod, alleged that exposure to Roundup caused them both to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.  Accordingly, a jury in the California Superior Court for the County of Alameda determined that Mr. Pilliod was entitled to over $37 million for economic and noneconomic loss and $1 billion in punitive damages.  The same jury also determined that Mrs. Pilliod was entitled to over $18 million for economic and noneconomic loss and $1 billion in punitive damages.  Monsanto’s parent company Bayer stated that it will appeal the jury’s decision.  According to Bayer, the award directly conflicts with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision that glyphosate-based products are not carcinogenic and can be used without harm to humans. (For more information see Penn State Agricultural Law Weekly Review May 2 2019).

Animal Welfare: Washington State Governor Signs Cage Free Egg Law
On May 7, 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation mandating that by the end of 2023, eggs produced and/or sold in the state must come from cage-free hens (HB 2049).  According to the legislation, by January 1, 2024, egg-laying hens may only be housed in “cage-free housing systems.”  Such systems must permit an egg-laying hen the ability to roam unrestricted (except for external walls) and be provided “enrichments” such as scratching areas, perches, nesting boxes, and dust bathing areas.  Additionally, eggs will not be permitted to be bought, sold, or transported in Washington unless the eggs are produced in compliance with the state’s cage-free standards.

Dairy Policy: Court Approves $40 Million Settlement Between Dairy Farmers and DairyAmerica
On May 8, 2019, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of California approved a $40 million class action settlement between approximately 84,000 dairy farmers and the milk marketing cooperative DairyAmerica (Carlin v.DairyAmerica, Case 1:09-cv-00430-AWI-EPG).  Members of the class are dairy farmers who received payment for sales of raw milk, as calculated by Federal Milk Marking Orders (FMMOs).  The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets FMMO rates by surveying large milk sellers such as DairyAmerica.  The dairy farmers alleged that between 2002 and 2007, DairyAmerica modified the data it reported to USDA to depress raw milk prices and protect co-op member profits.  Under the settlement agreement, the approximate 84,000 dairy farmers will receive a share of a $40 million settlement fund in proportion to the amount of milk they sold between 2002-2007.

Agricultural Labor: Comment Period Extended for Interpretation of Joint Employer Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
On May 14, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published notice in the Federal Register that the department is extending the comment period for its proposed rulemaking entitled: “Joint Employer Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” (84 FR 21301).  Following DOL’s latest action, the comment period is extended from June 10, 2019 to June 25, 2019.  Previously, on April 9, 2019, DOL announced its intention to update and clarify the department’s interpretation of joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act ( 84 FR 14043).  According to DOL, this update is necessary because there has not been a significant revision to the department’s interpretation since it was originally promulgated in 1958.

Food Safety: Canada Announces New Penalties for Companies that Break Food Safety Rules
On May 1, 2019, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced that the use of Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) by the agency has been expanded to include food businesses guilty of food safety violations.  AMPs for such violations can be issued for up to $15,000.  According to CFIA, by expanding the use of AMPs across all food sectors, the agency can more consistently enforce safety requirements for all food in Canada.

From National Ag Law Experts:
“Stealing Money, Honey: Case Provides Insight on How to Protect Roadside Stands from Theft”, Ellen Essman, Ag Law Blog – Agricultural Law & Taxation – Ohio State University Extension (April 25, 2019)   
“Recent 737 Max Crashes are a Preview of Driverless Liability Issues to Come”, Todd Janzen, Janzen Ag Law Blog – Janzen Ag Law (April 17, 2019)  
    
Federal Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Marketing Service

International Trade Administration

Pennsylvania Legislation:
SB 622: Legislation expanding the Resource Enhancement and Protection program (REAP) (Referred to Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 13, 2019)
SB 623: Legislation establishing the Pennsylvania Preferred Organic Program (Referred to Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 13, 2019)
SB 627: Legislation establishing the Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program (Referred to Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 13, 2019)
SB 634: Legislation establishing the Conservation Excellence Grant Program (Referred to Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 13, 2019)
SB 145: Legislation amending the Agricultural Area Security Law to provide for restrictions and limitations on preserved farmland (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 13, 2019)
SB 583: Legislation providing that agritourism activities are to be treated as part of agriculture authorized on farms preserved under the state’s farmland preservation program (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 8, 2019)
SB 585: Legislation establishing the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 8, 2019)
SB 588: Legislation amending the Vehicle Code to allow milk haulers to travel on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 8, 2019)

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:

Stay Informed:
Listen to our weekly Agricultural Law Podcast
Read our monthly Agricultural Law Brief newsletter    
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive daily AgLaw HotLinks
Connect with us on Facebook to view our weekly CASL Ledger detailing Center publications and activities
Visit The Ag & Food Law Blog for a comprehensive summary of daily judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—May 9, 2019


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:

Agricultural Labor: DHS Increases Number of H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Workers for 2019
On May 8, 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published notice in the Federal Register that the department is increasing the numerical limit on H-2B nonimmigrant visas by an additional 30,000 visas through the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 (84 FR 20005).  Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the annual number of H-2B nonimmigrant visas for temporary nonagricultural workers is capped at 66,000.  Accordingly, 33,000 H-2B visas are allotted to the first half of each fiscal year (October 1 to March 31) and 33,000 H-2B visas to the second half of each fiscal year (April 1 to September 30).  Recently, due to high demand, 15,000 additional H-2B visas were awarded for both FY 2017 and FY 2018.  DHS stated that the additional 30,000 H-2B visas for FY 2019 are necessary to avoid irreparable harm to businesses that need H-2B workers for financial viability.

Pennsylvania Legislation: PA Senate Passes “Farming First” Legislation
On May 8, 2019, the Pennsylvania Senate passed five pieces of legislation, known collectively as the “Farming First” package, intended to strengthen the Commonwealth’s agricultural sector.  First, legislation was passed providing a personal income tax credit for landowners who lease or sell their land, buildings and equipment to beginning farmers (SB 478).  The legislation now moves to the House Finance Committee.  Second, legislation was passed to establish the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission (SB 585).  The purpose of the Commission would be to review and make recommendations designed to promote and strengthen Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.  The legislation now moves to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  Third, legislation was passed providing that agritourism activities are to be treated as part of agriculture authorized on farms preserved under the state’s farmland preservation program (SB 583).  The legislation now moves to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  Fourth, legislation was passed amending the Vehicle Code to allow milk haulers to travel on highways during a declaration of disaster emergency (SB 588).  The legislation now moves to the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.  Fifth, legislation was passed exempting certain barns—and other structures—used as wedding or special event venues from Uniform Construction Code requirements SB 0453).  The legislation now moves to the House Labor and Industry Committee.

Pennsylvania Legislation: PA House Committee Passes Agricultural Legislation
On May 7, 2019, the Pennsylvania House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee passed three agricultural bills out of committee.  First, legislation was passed to amend the Retail Food Facility Safety chapter of the Agriculture Code so as to define the term “mobile retail food facilities” and to consolidate mobile food vendor fees (HB 671).  Next, legislation was passed to amend the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act to clarify the legal status of wedding barns that meet fire and safety standards (HB 1037).  Finally, legislation was passed to exempt Dog Law fines, fees, and costs from being transferred to the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account (HB 1277).  All three pieces of legislation now move to the full House for consideration.

Food Labeling: Oklahoma Governor Signs Meat Labeling Law
On April 26, 2019, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law legislation that prohibits the deceptive advertising or selling of mislabeled meat products (SB392).  Under the law, the term “meat” is restricted to “any edible portion of livestock, poultry or captive cervid carcass or part thereof.” Though the legislation makes no reference to cell-cultured or plant-based products, if such products cannot meet the laws definition, they would not be permitted to be advertised or labeled as “meat.”

Rural Policy: USDA Releases Rural Broadband Report
On April 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the release of a report entitled: A Case for Rural Broadband: Insights on Rural Broadband Infrastructure and Next Generation Precision Agriculture Technologies.  According to the report, a significant high-speed internet infrastructure gap exists between urban and rural areas.  The report asserted that if the rural internet infrastructure is brought-up to meet estimated producer demand, the increased use of precision agriculture would result in a significant growth in overall U.S. agriculture production.

FSMA: FDA Withdraws Outdated Animal Food Compliance Policy Guides
On April 30, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the withdraw of three outdated Compliance Policy Guides (CPGs) pertaining to the use of certain animal-derived materials in animal food.  According to FDA, CPG Sec. 675.400 – Rendered Animal Feed Ingredients and CPG Sec. 690.300 – Canned Pet Food were withdrawn because of the additional regulatory tools available under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  Additionally, CPG Sec. 690.500 – Uncooked Meat for Animal Food was withdrawn because it merely restated the adulteration provision of section 402(a)(5) of the FD&C Act.  The three CPGs were originally issued in 1979-80.

From National Ag Law Experts:
“Spring 2019”, John R. Block, Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC (May 2, 2019)
“Have dicamba drift damage here’s what you can do”, Paul Goeringer, Maryland Risk Management Education Blog (April 30, 2019)
     
Federal Actions and Notices:
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Environmental Protection Agency

Farm Credit Administration

Rural Utilities Service

Pennsylvania Legislation:
HB 1345: Legislation to prohibit the practice of pet leasing (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 6, 2019)
HB 1348: Legislation providing agritourism businesses with limited liability protection (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, May 1, 2019)

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:

Stay Informed:
Listen to our weekly Agricultural Law Podcast
Read our monthly Agricultural Law Brief newsletter    
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive daily AgLaw HotLinks
Connect with us on Facebook to view our weekly CASL Ledger detailing Center publications and activities
Visit The Ag & Food Law Blog for a comprehensive summary of daily judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Agricultural Law in the Spotlight: Apprentices, Interns, and Volunteers


Written by M. Sean High—Staff Attorney

To help agricultural producers better understand their legal obligations relating to the agricultural workforce, the Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law is publishing a series of Agricultural Law in the Spotlight articles addressing key farm labor issues.  The first article in the series covered an agricultural producer’s basic legal obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  This article will address legal considerations regarding the use of workers who are classified as apprentices, interns, and/or volunteers.

Proper Classification of Agricultural Workers
As was discussed in the previous article, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) sets the federal standards for overtime pay, minimum wage, and child labor.  FLSA requires an employment relationship.  If a worker is not an employee, then FLSA requirements do not apply.  

Under FLSA, workers employed solely in agriculture are not entitled to overtime pay.  Agricultural employees, however, may be entitled to minimum wage as FLSA provides only limited exemptions for agricultural operations.  As a result, agricultural producers should determine if workers who they consider to be apprentices, interns, or volunteers are actually employees who are entitled to FLSA’s minimum wage protection.  The legal obligations for which an agricultural operation is responsible depend upon the specific legal status – employee, apprentice, intern, or volunteer – of their workers.  Thus, it is imperative that a farm properly categorize their workers.  When a farm has work performed by someone claimed to be an apprentice, intern, or volunteer, this worker must meet the appropriate legal standard for his or her position.

Apprentices
An apprentice is a person who agrees to work for an employer for a fixed time-period, at wages that are usually relatively low, in exchange for learning a trade.  In short, an apprenticeship is a job with training.  Therefore, apprentices are employees covered under FLSA. 

Many industries have historically used the apprentice system to pass on specialized skills from a master practitioner to an interested student.  For example, in many states (though not in Pennsylvania) an individual can acquire a barber’s license through either attending barbering school or serving an apprenticeship in a licensed barbershop.  In those instances, the apprentice would receive pay while working the hours necessary to fulfill the state’s licensing requirements.  

Frequently, industries create formal apprenticeship programs that are registered with the U.S. Department of Labor or an approved State Apprenticeship Agency.  Apprenticeships under these programs generally last from one to six years and can be sponsored by an individual business, an employer association, or in partnership with a labor organization.  These types of apprenticeships usually involve both on-the-job training and related classroom instruction conducted under the supervision of a highly skilled trade professional.    

Recently, members of the agricultural industry in Pennsylvania have created two new formal apprenticeship programs designed to pass on important knowledge and skills to a new workforce.  As with all formal state apprenticeship programs, apprentices in both programs are considered employees under FLSA. 

First, on October 10, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced the creation of an agricultural equipment service technician apprenticeship program.  Under the program, five Pennsylvania equipment companies have agreed to hire and provide mentors to the employee apprentices.  Sponsored by the Northeast Equipment Dealers Association, the program is intended to resolve anticipated workforce shortfalls resulting from the retirement of more than 1,000 of Pennsylvania’s agricultural equipment service technicians by 2027.  

Second, on March 21, 2019, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) announced state approval of a formal apprenticeship program for vegetable growers.  Called the Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship, the new program was developed by PASA and provides a way for beginning farmers to train under master growers.  The program is intended to help beginning farmers acquire the skills necessary to start their own vegetable farms and to assist master growers meeting their employment needs.  Since 2016, PASA also has offered an apprenticeship focused on dairy grazing in conjunction with Wisconsin-based Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship.

Interns
Internships are positions held by workers—called interns—for the primary purpose of providing work experience for these interns.  If a position meets the requirements necessary to qualify as an internship, the intern is not considered to be an employee and is therefore not required to be provided  compensation for the work performed.  

FLSA requires that for-profit businesses—as opposed to nonprofit organizations—pay all employees for their work.  In certain specific situations, however, a worker at a for-profit business could be considered an intern and not an employee.  In those circumstances, because an employment relationship would not exist, FLSA compensation requirements would not apply to the intern.

Whether the worker at a for-profit agricultural business is considered to be an employee or an intern will depend on who primarily benefits from the work being performed—the business or the worker.  If the work being performed is primarily for the benefit of the agricultural business, then the worker is an employee who is entitled to wages.  If the work being performed is primarily for the benefit of the worker, then the worker is an intern and not entitled to wages. 

According to courts that have ruled on this issue, seven factors are to be considered when determining when work at a for-profit business is primarily for the benefit of the worker and may qualify as an internship:
  1. Both the business owner and the worker understand that there is no expectation of compensation for the work to be performed;
  2. The training provided is like that given in an educational environment; 
  3. The work is tied to the worker’s formal education (such as receiving academic credit for the work performed); 
  4. The work accommodates the worker’s academic commitments by corresponding to the worker’s academic calendar; 
  5. The duration of the work is limited to the time the worker receives beneficial learning; 
  6. The worker does not displace paid employees; and 
  7. Both the business owner and the worker understand that the worker is not entitled to a job after the work period has been completed.

No single factor in the primary benefit test is intended to be dispositive in the determination of whether the work being performed is for the primary benefit of the worker.  Instead, the circumstances of each work arrangement are to be assessed individually.  

Volunteers
A volunteer is an individual that freely gives of his or her time in performing work-related tasks.  Unlike an apprentice, a volunteer has no expectation of wages nor of receiving job training.  Unlike an intern, a volunteer has no expectation of receiving work experience.  Instead, a volunteer is merely demonstrating their generosity through contributing time to a charitable or public purpose. 

FLSA does not apply to qualifying volunteer work.  Accordingly, an individual may volunteer his or her time to a public entity such as a local fire department or public library and not be covered under FLSA.  Additionally, an individual may generally volunteer his or her time to a nonprofit organization such as a church or civic organization and not be covered under FLSA.  An individual, however, may not volunteer his or her time to a for-profit business. 

While an individual may volunteer his or her time to a nonprofit organization, certain restrictions apply.  Generally, an individual may not volunteer to operate any commercial activity that a nonprofit organization offers to the public.  For example, a volunteer may not operate a cash register in a nonprofit organization’s retail gift shop. 

Additionally, volunteers may not be used to displace a nonprofit organization’s employees or to perform work that is normally performed by the nonprofit organization’s employees.  For example, if a nonprofit organization normally employs workers to unload trucks in its warehouse, the nonprofit organization may not bring in volunteers to unload trucks in its warehouse.

Finally, an employee of a nonprofit organization may not volunteer to perform the same type of work at the nonprofit organization for which the worker is currently employed.  For example, a nonprofit organization employee hired to unload trucks in the nonprofit organization’s warehouse may not volunteer to unload trucks in the nonprofit organization’s warehouse after the employee’s work shift has ended.

Conclusion
While agricultural producers may potentially utilize apprentices, interns, and/or volunteers to perform work, they must fully consider their legal obligations under FLSA.  First, an apprentice is an employee under FLSA and such workers must receive both on-the-job training and wages for their efforts.  Next, an intern is not an employee under FLSA as the work performed by the intern is primarily for the benefit of the intern.  Interns are not entitled to wages.  Finally, a volunteer is not an employee under FLSA and is not entitled to wages.  Individuals, however, may not volunteer their services to for-profit businesses and are limited in the types of activities that they perform for a nonprofit organization.

References
U.S. Department of Labor, Apprenticeship Resources

U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act

U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, Fact Sheet #14A: Non-Profit Organizations and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

U.S. Department of Labor, Fair Labor Standards Advisor, Volunteers

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—May 2, 2019


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:

Biotechnology: FDA Approves GMO Apple
On April 26, 2019, Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF) announced that the company’s genetically modified Arctic Fuji apple has completed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) voluntary review process and been awarded FDA approval.  Previously, in 2015, OSF had received FDA approval for its genetically modified Arctic Granny and Arctic Delicious apple varieties.  According to the Canadian based OSF, the company’s biotechnology turns off the enzyme in each variety of Arctic apple that causes browning—thereby greatly reducing food waste resulting from bruising.  Artic Fuji apples have been available to consumers in select U.S. cities since the fall of 2017.

Pesticides: EPA Reaffirms that Glyphosate is not a Risk to Public Health
On April 30, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release asserting that the pesticide glyphosate is not carcinogenic and when used correctly does not pose a health risk.  According to EPA, when the users of glyphosate properly follow current product labeling, the pesticide causes no risk to humans.  While EPA asserts that the pesticide is not harmful to the public health, the agency is proposing management measures intended to make glyphosate application more effective and efficient.  Specifically, EPA seeks to develop procedures that protect pollinators and decrease weed resistance to glyphosate.

Pesticides: Canada Announces New Regulations for Three Neonicotinoids
On April 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service reported that the Canadian government has decided to permit the continued use of the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam following an evaluation of their effect on pollinators.  While the neonicotinoids—which are in a class of insecticides chemically related to nicotine—will continue to be available, certain changes will be made to product labels.  Additional restrictions will be imposed on current permitted uses and certain foliar and soil applications will be canceled.  Nevertheless, seed treatments for the three neonicotinoids will continue to be permitted and the current maximum residue limits will remain unchanged.

Food Safety: FDA Issues Voluntary Recall Guidance
On April 23, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in the Federal Register of the availability of  draft guidance regarding the voluntary recall of FDA products (84 FR 17112).  Entitled: Initiation of Voluntary Recalls Under 21 CFR Part 7, Subpart C, the draft guidance is intended to provide industry with recommendations for personnel training, organized recordkeeping, and written recall procedures.  Interested individuals are encouraged to submit comments on the draft guidance by June 24, 2019 to ensure FDA consideration before the agency begins work on the final version of the guidance.

Farmland Preservation: Legislation Allowing Agritourism of PA Preserved Farms Reported Out of Committee
On May 1, 2019, the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee advanced legislation providing that agritourism activities are to be treated as part of agriculture authorized on farms preserved under the state’s farmland preservation program (SB 583).  According to sponsoring Senator Ryan Aument, today’s farmers encounter many difficulties generating enough income from agricultural commodities alone.  As such, many agricultural producers have sought additional revenue from alternative sources such as agritourism.  Currently, each county farmland preservation board sets the standards for what is defined as agritourism.  Senator Aument’s legislation would create a uniform definition of agritourism and would permit such activities on the Commonwealth’s preserved farmland.  The legislation now moves to the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee.

Dairy Policy: Legislation Establishing PA Dairy Future Commission Reported Out of Committee
On May 1, 2019, the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee advanced legislation to establish the Pennsylvania Dairy Future Commission (SB 585).  According to sponsoring Senator Jake Corman, the purpose of the Commission would be to review and make recommendations designed to promote and strengthen Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.  Areas to be considered by the Commission would include dairy processing, production, and marketing.  Additionally, the commission would assess the effects statutes, regulations, and local governments have on the dairy industry.  The legislation now moves to the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee.

From National Ag Law Experts:
“How Indiana's Trespass Law Differs from ‘Ag Gag’ Laws”, Brianna J. Schroeder, Schroeder Ag Law Blog – Janzen Ag Law (April 24, 2019)
“Well-crafted farmers market vendor agreement protects both parties”, Sarah Everhart, Maryland Risk Management Education Blog (April 16, 2019)   
     
Federal Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Marketing Service

Food and Nutrition Service

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Executive Orders

Department of Agriculture

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:
“Biosecurity beyond the farm” – National Hog Farmer

Stay Informed:
Listen to our weekly Agricultural Law Podcast
Read our monthly Agricultural Law Brief newsletter    
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive daily AgLaw HotLinks
Connect with us on Facebook to view our weekly CASL Ledger detailing Center publications and activities
Visit The Ag & Food Law Blog for a comprehensive summary of daily judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—April 25, 2019


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:

Industrial Hemp/Cannabis: USDA Provides for Importation of Hemp Seeds
On April 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a process for the legal importation of hemp seeds into the U.S.  According to USDA, hemp seeds may be imported into the U.S. from Canada if accompanied by either: 1) a phytosanitary certification from Canada’s national plant protection organization verifying the origin of the seed and confirming that no plant pests have been detected; or 2) a Federal Seed Analysis Certificate for hemp seeds grown in Canada.  For all countries other than Canada, hemp seeds may be imported into the U.S. if accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country’s national plant protection organization verifying the origin of the seed and confirming that no plant pests have been detected.

Food Labeling: Montana Governor Signs Real Meat Act
On April 18, 2019, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed legislation defining cell-cultured edible products, defining hamburger and ground beef, and clarifying when meat is mislabeled. (HB 327).  Dubbed the “Real Meat Act”, the legislation defines a cell-cultured edible product as a “concept of meat” that is produced from a cell culture and not from a whole slaughtered animal.  Additionally, hamburger and beef are defined as being derived from the edible flesh of livestock or a livestock product and does not include cell-cultured edible products.  Finally, any cell-cultured edible product labeled as meat is mislabeled if it does not meet the definition of meat.

Food Policy: New York SNAP Participants Permitted to Buy Groceries Online
On April 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the launch of a two-year pilot project that will enable certain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants in New York State the ability to select and pay for groceries online.  According to USDA, initially, ShopRite and Amazon will provide online service to participants in the New York City area and Walmart will provide online service to participants in upstate New York.  Eventually, other online retailers will be added to the pilot project.  USDA anticipates that the SNAP online pilot project will be expanded into other areas of New York State as well as Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

International Trade: Panel Finds China’s Administration of Grain Tariff-Rate Quotas Violates WTO Commitments
On April 18, 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel ruled that China had administered its tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat, corn, and rice inconsistently with its WTO commitments.  The WTO panel found that by not properly administering its TRQs, China unfairly denied U.S. farmers access to China’s grain markets.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if China had properly administered its TRQs, in 2015 alone, it would have imported as much as $3.5 billion worth of corn, wheat and rice.

Dairy Policy: USDA Announces $1.5 Million in Grants for Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives
On April 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of $1.5 million in competitive grant funding for the Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives.  Authorized under the 2018 Farm Bill, the DBI Initiatives are intended to support dairy producers by assisting in the development of value-added dairy products, farm diversification, and regional milk production.  According to USDA, the DBI Initiative grants may be used for business activities including, but not limited to, dairy promotion, dairy research, and the development of niche products such as specialty cheeses.  Interested individuals must submit applications electronically through www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 17, 2019.

Transportation: PA Milk Hauling Legislation Reported Out of Committee
On April 17, 2019, the Pennsylvania House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee advanced legislation clarifying that milk haulers can travel on Pennsylvania highways during a declaration of disaster emergency (HB 915).  According to sponsoring Representative Martin T. Causer, during inclement weather, travel restrictions may be placed on commercial vehicles in the interest of public safety.  These restrictions, however, do not consider the perishable nature of milk and that cow milking schedules cannot be adjusted.  Under the proposed legislation, during a declaration of disaster emergency, a licensed milk hauler would be permitted to travel to a dairy farm to pick up milk and to transport milk to or from a milk plant. 

From National Ag Law Experts:
“A new Lake Erie battle: Lucas County sues U.S. EPA over western basin water quality”, Peggy Kirk Hall, Ag Law Blog – Agricultural Law & Taxation – Ohio State University Extension (April 22, 2019)
“TX Supreme Court Addresses Duty of Executive Rights Holder”, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Texas Agriculture Law Blog – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (April 22, 2019)      
     
Federal Actions and Notices:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Food and Drug Administration

Food Safety and Inspection Service

Pennsylvania Legislation:
HB 1223: Legislation to create Keystone Opportunity Dairy Zones (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 17, 2019)
HB 1224: Legislation providing for Milk Marketing Board and Department of Revenue coordination on milk premiums (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 17, 2019)
HB 1241: Legislation providing that certain fees would not be considered a “charge” under Recreational Use of Land and Water Act (Referred to House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, April 17, 2019)
HB 1277: Legislation exempting fines, fees and costs under the Dog Law from being transferred to the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 17, 2019)
HR 222: Resolution asking the U.S. FDA to enforce the standard of identity for milk (Referred to House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, April 17, 2019)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection

State Conservation Commission

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:

Stay Informed:
Listen to our weekly Agricultural Law Podcast
Read our monthly Agricultural Law Brief newsletter    
Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive daily AgLaw HotLinks
Connect with us on Facebook to view our weekly CASL Ledger detailing Center publications and activities
Visit The Ag & Food Law Blog for a comprehensive summary of daily judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food