Thursday, November 7, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - November 7, 2019

Written by:  
Brook Duer—Staff Attorney
Audry Thompson—Research Assistant
           
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Agricultural Finance:  Chapter 12 Farm Bankruptcies Increasing 
On October 30, 2019, American Farm Bureau (AFB) released a market intelligence report authored by Chief Economist John Newton showing that Chapter 12 farm bankruptcy filings rose 24% in the 12-month period ending September 2019 as compared to the same period one year earlier.  There were a total of 580 Chapter 12 filings, which nevertheless remains lower than the recent high of 676 filings in 2011.  Individual state and regional filings varied greatly but nine states recorded totals at or above 10-year highs (Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia).  More than 40% of the filings, 255, were in a 13-state region of the Midwest.  That compares to 78 filed in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions combined.  The Southeast recorded the second-highest total with 118 filings, an increase in that region of 31%.  While Newton also reported record-high total farm income projections for 2019 of $88 billion, nearly 40% of that income or approximately $33 billion, is attributable to trade war aid, disaster assistance, farm bill programs and insurance indemnities.

Right to Farm Laws:  Pennsylvania Attorney General Releases 2019 ACRE Annual Report 
On October 25, 2019, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (OAG) released its annual report of case review and enforcement activity under Pennsylvania’s 2005 Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environment (ACRE) statute.  Under the ACRE statute, OAG has the authority, among other things, to review a local ordinance upon referral and determine if it  meets the statute’s definition of “unauthorized” due to infringement upon the conduct of a “normal agricultural operation’ as defined in Pennsylvania’s Right to Farm Law.  If so, OAG may seek injunctive relief against its enforcement.  In the state fiscal year from July 2018 to June 2019, OAG received nineteen (19) referrals of new cases, as compared to eight (8) the previous fiscal year, closed twelve (12) cases and continued working on fifteen (15) cases remaining from previous years.  Since the 2005 inception of the ACRE program, OAG reports 174 total referrals, 33 of which remain pending and 141 of which have been resolved. Of the 174 total referrals since 2005, 7 resulted in lawsuits being filed.  Frequently, cases are resolved through negotiation with township governments for ordinance amendments.  The report details the status of each lawsuit and what case law precedent has been established.  The report is not yet posted on OAG’s website but is available upon request at acre@attorneygeneral.gov

Conservation Programs:  NRCS Proposes Revisions to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices Mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill 
On October 23, 2019, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) published proposed revisions to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices (NHCP) regarding standards for planning, designing, installing, operating and maintaining an enumerated list of thirteen (13) conservation practices used in conservation systems that treat highly erodible land (HEL) or on land determined to be a wetland. There is a thirty (30) day public comment period which closes on November 22, 2019.  These revisions stem from a mandate contained in the 2018 Farm Bill for NRCS to review current conservation practice standards to increase flexibility, optimize site-specific needs and minimize risks of design failure.  The conservation practice standards proposed to be revised support programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program. Ultimately, those programs help producers cover part of the costs for implementing these practices. 

Food Policy:  USDA, EPA, and FDA Partner with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance
On October 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing a formal collaboration with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA).  The FWRA is an initiative between the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Restaurant Association that aims to reduce the creation of food waste, increase donations of food to those in need, and divert inevitable food waste from landfills through recycling.  The collaboration between the federal agencies and the FWRA is intended to further the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Federal Interagency Strategy of the EPA, USDA, and FDA.  According to the MOU, the parties intend to share best practices on food waste reduction, collaborate on industry education efforts to reduce food waste, and encourage “safe and effective food donation” through the promotion of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, a 1996 federal statute encouraging food donation by limiting liability risks.   

From National Ag Law Experts: 
Penn State Research:
Sam Sholtis Malaria parasite lives on the edge (October 31, 2019)

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices: 
Department of Agriculture

Department of Environmental Protection

Delaware River Basin Commission

Pennsylvania Legislature
H.B.1085 “An Act repealing the act of June 22, 1935 (P.L.414, No.182), known as the State Personal Property Tax Act.” Presented to the Governor (October 29, 2019)
S.B.147 “An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in Pennsylvania Game Commission, further providing for accountability; and, in hunting and furtaking, further providing for hunting on Sunday prohibited and for trespass on private property while hunting and providing for hunting on Sunday without written permission.” Passed in House (October 30, 2019)
S.B.350 “An Act amending Titles 3 (Agriculture), 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for adult-use cannabis and establishing the Adult-Use Cannabis Grant Program and the Adult-Use Cannabis Fund; in criminal history record information, further providing for expungement; in sentencing, providing for commutation and dismissal of cannabis-related offenses; and imposing penalties.” Referred to Agriculture and Rural Affairs (October 31, 2019)
H.B.188 “An Act providing for property owner's bill of rights statement.” Laid on table, House (October 30, 2019)
H.B.827 “An Act designating certain activity by the Delaware River Basin Commission as the exercise of the power of eminent domain that entitles the owners of the property in question to appropriate and just compensation.” Removed from table in House (October 29, 2019)

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
USDA - Agricultural Marketing Service
“Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program,” Interim Final Rule (October 31, 2019). 

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Environmental Protection Agency
“Isotianil; Pesticide Tolerances,” Final Rule (November 1, 2019). 

Farm Credit Administration

Fish and Wildlife Service

Food and Drug Administration

Food and Nutrition Service

Forest Service

Geological Survey

International Trade Administration

Susquehanna River Basin Commission
“Commission Meeting,” Notice (November 6, 2019)

Wage and Hour Division
“Fluctuating Workweek Method of Computing Overtime,” Proposed Rule (November 5, 2019). 

Workers Compensation Programs Office

U.S. House Agriculture Committee Actions: 
H.R.4895 “CFTC [Commodity Futures Trading Commission] Reauthorization Act of 2019” Introduced, Referred to Committee (October 29, 2019). 
H.R.4902 “ARPA [Advanced Research Projects Agency]-Terra Act of 2019,” Introduced, Referred to Committee (October 29, 2019).
H.R.4909 “CFTC [Commodity Futures Trading Commission] Cost-Benefit Analysis Improvement Act,” Introduced, Referred to Committee (October 29, 2019). 
H.R.4874 “Rebuild Rural America Act of 2019,” Introduced, Sponsor introductory remarks (October 30, 2019). 
H.R.4930 “To amend the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to provide for a lifetime National Recreational Pass for any veteran with a service-connected disability,” Introduced, Referred to Committees (October 30, 2019). 
H.Con.Res.71 “Urging all nations to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade and to enforce existing laws against such trade,” Introduced, Referred to Committees (October 31, 2019). 

U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, And Forestry Committee Actions: 
S.2732 “A bill to amend the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Terra, and for other purposes,” Read twice and referred to committee (October 29, 2019). 
S.2744 “A bill to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act to modify requirements for a meat food product of cattle to bear a "Product of U.S.A." label, and for other purposes,” Read twice and referred to committee (October 30, 2019). 
S.2752 “A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve program requirements, and for other purposes,” Read twice and referred to committee (October 30, 2019). 
S.2760 “A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to enhance direct certification under the school lunch program,” Read twice and referred to committee (October 31, 2019). 

Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive AgLaw HotLinks:

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Want to get updates, but prefer to listen?  Check out the Agricultural Law PodcastWe can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Review last month’s biggest legal developments in agriculture in the October 2019 Agricultural Law BriefIf you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ag Law Weekly Review - October 31, 2019

Written by: 
Brook Duer —Staff Attorney
Audry Thompson—Research Assistant
           
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Industrial Hemp/Cannabis: USDA Releases Interim Final Rule for Domestic Hemp Production
On October 29, 2019, USDA publicly announced and released the text of its interim regulations governing domestic hemp production.  The interim final rule implements Section 10113 of the 2018 Farm Bill and various new sections of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, which it amended. Once published in the Federal Register, the rule will be immediately effective and expire after two years.  In the meantime, there will be a 60-day comment period and thereafter USDA anticipates issuing its final rule.  The rule adds new part 990 (“Domestic Hemp Production”) to 7 CFR. As stated in the 2018 Farm Bill, states wishing to have primary authority over hemp production must have a USDA-approved hemp production plan. Subpart B of new part 990 outlines the mandatory components and the approval and amendment processes for a state plan, as well as containing material provisions of interest regarding acreage reporting to states and FSA, grower data sharing with USDA, hemp sampling and THC testing, disposal of “hot” plants, and annual inspections.  In the absence of a USDA-approved plan, Subpart C governs hemp production through the application and issuance a USDA-issued hemp producer license and its compliance requirements.  Subpart E contains a provision stating that no state may prohibit the transportation of hemp or hemp products through their state if legally produced under federal law.  The interim final rule does not address import/export of seed or plant material or extracts, nor does it address seed certification. Those issues remain unchanged as presently regulated.

WOTUS:  Lawsuits Challenge Repeal of 2015 WOTUS Rule 
After the October 22, 2019, EPA repeal of the 2015 WOTUS Rule and simultaneous reinstitution of the pre-existing WOTUS regulatory framework dating to the 1980s, immediate legal action was taken by at least two interest groups to challenge that action. 
  • On October 22, 2019, the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association filed a lawsuit in New Mexico federal court claiming the reinstitution of the old regulatory framework was unconstitutional.  New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency et al., 1:19-cv-00988. The suit alleges, among other things, that: (a) the result of EPA’s action is an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to an agency; (b) the term “navigable waters” should be declared void for vagueness; (c) the former interpretation and application of navigable waters was already rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2006 Rapanos v. U.S. case. 
  • On October 23, 2019, a collection of environmental groups filed a lawsuit in South Carolina federal court alleging that the repeal and reinstitution of the old rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act, and interpretative caselaw, in multiple ways and should be invalidated. South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., 2:19-cv-03006. 
EPA’s repeal becomes effective December 23, 2019, and thus far no federal court has entertained or granted an injunction preventing the repeal from taking effect. 

Pesticides: EPA Proposes New Rule on Pesticide Application Exclusion Zone Requirements
On October 24, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule to be published in the Federal Register revising the Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ) requirements of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS).  The AEZ refers to the area around an on-going pesticide application that acts as a buffer zone to prevent unnecessary human contact with the pesticide.  According to EPA, the proposed changes would limit an AEZ to the boundaries of a farmer’s own property, provide exemptions for immediate family members, simplify criteria for determining whether a 100-foot or a 25-foot AEZ should apply, and clarifies when to resume an application that has been suspended due to human entry into the AEZ.  In the announcement and proposed rule, EPA points out that persons outside a farm’s boundaries are still protected by the existing rule’s “do not contact” provisions prohibiting pesticide contact with all known persons, within or outside property lines.  Once published, a 90-day comment period will commence.    

Food Labeling: FDA States Enforcement Stance on New Nutrition Facts Labeling
On October 23, 2019, food manufacturers received information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding enforcement of the long-pending required amendment of  Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labeling (81 FR 33741) set to take effect for large manufacturers (total sales in excess of $10 million) on January 1, 2020.  In response to a September 30, 2019 letter from the Food & Beverage Issue Alliance (“Alliance”) requesting, among other things, a “six-month period of enforcement discretion,” FDA revised the compliance language on its webpage devoted to the new labeling to read: “During the first 6 months following the January 1, 2020, compliance date, FDA plans to work cooperatively with manufacturers to meet the new Nutrition Facts label requirements and will not focus on enforcement actions regarding these requirements during that time.”

Pesticides: EU Approves Ban of Another Neonicotinoid Harmful to Pollinators  
On October 22, 2019, the majority of European Union (EU) countries approved the proposal of the European Commission not to extend approval of the use of the pesticide thiacloprid after its current approval expires on April 30, 2020.  Thiacloprid is a neonicotinoid sold by Bayer CropScience under the brand name Biscaya, and has been linked to harm to pollinators.  A July 2019 EU notification to the World Trade Organization of the impending action also states that harmful effects on human health and groundwater cannot be ruled out.  According to Bloomberg News, Bayer CropScience submitted a letter to EPA in 2013 voluntarily canceling all its thiacloprid product registrations in the United States.  This is the fourth neonicotinoid to be banned for outdoor use in the EU. Thiacloprid use increased as a replacement for three previously banned neonicotinoids. Use of one remaining neonicotinoid, acetamiprid, is authorized in the EU but is characterized as relatively low toxicity.  

Farm Bill:  USDA, DOE Collaborate on Rural Energy Technology Development 
On October 25, 2019, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the execution of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) pursuant to Section 6501 of the 2018 Farm Bill to collaboratively promote investment in rural energy infrastructure and the development of energy-related technologies and manufacturing in rural and agricultural communities. An interagency working group is to be established to implement the MOU’s terms and prepare a yearly report of actions and projects.  This MOU results from the 2017 establishment of, and resulting report from, the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which recommended the development of all sources of energy including renewable sources to bolster rural prosperity. 

From National Ag Law Experts:
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Livestock and Community Property (October 28, 2019) 

Penn State Research:

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture

Department of Environmental Protection

State Conservation Commission

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

Pennsylvania Legislature
H.B.1085 “An Act repealing the act of June 22, 1935 (P.L.414, No.182), known as the State Personal Property Tax Act” Presented to Governor (October 29, 2019)
S.B.147 “An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in Pennsylvania Game Commission, further providing for accountability; and, in hunting and furtaking, further providing for hunting on Sunday prohibited and for trespass on private property while hunting and providing for hunting on Sunday without written permission,” Re-reported as Committed (October 29, 2019)

House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
H.B.918 “An Act repealing the act of May 20, 1857 (P.L.617, No.658), entitled ‘An act making an Appropriation from the State Treasury, in aid of the Farmers' High School,’” Committee Vote—Report Bill as Amended (October 23, 2019)
H.B.1223 “An Act providing for the creation of keystone opportunity dairy zones to facilitate the economic development of Pennsylvania's dairy industry; authorizing expenditures; providing tax exemptions, tax deductions, tax abatements and tax credits; creating additional obligations of the Commonwealth and local governmental units; and prescribing powers and duties of certain State and local departments, agencies and officials,” Committee Vote—Report Bill as Amended (October 23, 2019)
H.B.1224 “An Act amending the act of April 28, 1937 (P.L.417, No.105), known as the Milk Marketing Law, in purpose, short title and definitions, further providing for definitions and construction; in general powers of the board, providing for coordination with Department of Revenue; and, in prices of milk, further providing for cooperatives,” Committee Vote—Report Bill as Committed (October 23, 2019)
H.B.1775 “An Act amending the act of May 15, 1945 (P.L.547, No.217), known as the Conservation District Law, providing for legislative report,” Committee Vote—Report Bill as Amended (October 23, 2019)

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Marketing Service

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Delaware River Basin Commission

Environmental Protection Agency
“Mandipropamid; Pesticide Tolerances,” Final Rule (October 28, 2019)
“Sulfoxaflor; Pesticide Tolerances,” Final Rule (October 25, 2019)
“Fenbuconazole; Pesticide Tolerances,” Final Rule (October 25, 2019)

Fish and Wildlife Service

Food and Drug Administration

Food and Nutrition Service

Food Safety and Inspection Service

Partnerships and Public Engagement Office

U.S. House Agriculture Committee Actions: 
H.R.4885 “To amend Public Law 87-788 (commonly known as the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Act; 16 U.S.C. 582a-7) to provide for equal treatment of the District of Columbia with respect to funds made available under that Act,” Introduced; Referred to House Committee on Agriculture (October 28, 2019)             
H.R.4881 “To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to ensure that consumers can make informed decisions in choosing between meat products such as beef and imitation meat products, and for other purposes,” Introduced; Referred to Committee on Energy and Commerce and Committee on Agriculture (October 28, 2019)
H.R.4874 “To amend the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 to establish the Rural Innovation and Partnership Administration and to amend the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to establish the Rural Future Partnership Fund to invest in the rural areas of the United States to achieve their preferred future while maximizing their contribution to the well-being of the United States, and for other purposes,” Introduced; Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Committee on Financial Services, and Energy and Commerce (October 28, 2019)
S.2107 “Protecting America's Food and Agriculture Act of 2019,” Referred to Committee on Homeland Security and Committee on Agriculture (October 28, 2019)
H.R.4820 “To amend the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 to provide assistance to manage farmer and rancher stress and for the mental health of individuals in rural areas, and for other purposes,” Introduced; Referred to House Committee on Agriculture (October 23, 2019)
H.R.4816 “To amend the Commodity Exchange Act to modify provisions relating to whistleblower incentives and protection, and for other purposes,” Introduced; Referred to Committee on Agriculture and Committee on Oversight and Reform (October 23, 2019)
H.R.4813 “To prohibit large platform utilities from being a financial institution or being affiliated with a person that is a financial institution, and for other purposes,” Introduced; Referred to Committee on Financial Services and Committee on Agriculture (October 23, 2019)
H.R.4642 “Community Broadband Mapping Act,” Referred to Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit (October 22, 2019)

U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, And Forestry Committee Actions: 
S.2692 “A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve direct certification, and for other purposes,” Introduced (October 24, 2019)
S.2695 “A bill to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to provide for the defense of United States agriculture and food through the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, and for other purposes,” Introduced (October 24, 2019)
S.2704 “A bill to amend the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 to establish the Rural Innovation and Partnership Administration and to amend the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to establish the Rural Future Partnership Fund to invest in the rural areas of the United States to achieve their preferred future while maximizing their contribution to the well-being of the United States, and for other purposes,” Introduced (October 24, 2019)

Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive AgLaw HotLinks:

Connect with us on Facebook! Every week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.

Want to get updates, but prefer to listen? Check out the Agricultural Law Podcast! We can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Review last month’s biggest legal developments in agriculture in the October 2019 Agricultural Law Brief. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - October 24, 2019

Written by:
Brook Duer — Staff Attorney
Audry Thompson — Research Assistant
           
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Invasive Species: USDA Announces Plum Pox Virus Eradicated in U.S.
On October 17, 2019, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach announced the elimination of Plum Pox Virus (PPV) within the United States.  PPV is a viral disease-causing deformities and decay in stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, almonds, cherries, and plums, which typically exhibit severe symptoms.  PPV can also infect popular garden items including tomatoes, peas, petunias, and zinnias.  According to the USDA, while PPV does not kill trees and is not harmful to humans or animals, it lowers fruit production and marketability, causing economic damage to the stone fruit industry.  First detected in 1999 in Pennsylvania, PPV was later found in Michigan and New York in 2006.  USDA’s announcement of the nationwide eradication arrives on the heels of a final quarantine removal in Orange and Ulster Counties in New York.  USDA states that its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) maintains cooperation with Canada and continues to monitor and regulate stone fruit-producing states to prevent further introduction of PPV into the United States.  

Industrial Hemp/Cannabis: California Conforms Its Industrial Hemp Law to 2018 Farm Bill
On October 12, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill No. 153 amending Sections 81000-81015 of California’s Food and Agriculture Code, dealing with industrial hemp, to conform California law to the 2018 Farm Bill provisions on industrial hemp.    Before May 1, 2020, the California Department of Food and Agriculture must submit a hemp regulation plan to USDA as required by Section 10113 of the 2018 Farm Bill.  Notable in the new California statutory scheme is Section 81006(c)’s strict prohibition on cultivating industrial hemp on a premise licensed to cultivate cannabis.  Industrial hemp, regardless of THC content, cultivated on such premises shall be considered cannabis for all California regulatory purposes.  This bright-line rule is a decisive measure in the regulatory dilemma posed by potential cross-pollination between genetically compatible plants deemed “cannabis” and those deemed “industrial hemp” under state regulatory schemes. 

Food Policy: Global Agricultural Productivity Report Analyzes Critical World Benchmarks
On October 15, 2019, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences issued a Global Agricultural Productivity Report (“GAP Report”) concluding that global agricultural productivity is growing annually by 1.63%, one percentage point less than the estimated 1.73% needed to sustainably produce food, feed, fiber and bioenergy for ten billion people by 2050.  Productivity growth is presently strong in China and South Asia, but slowing in North America, Europe, and Latin America.  The report notes an average annual productivity rate of 1 % in low-income countries, which also have high rates of food insecurity, malnutrition, and rural poverty.  This is short of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of doubling productivity of the lowest-income farmers by 2030.  The GAP Report was issued in connection with the 2019 World Food Prize symposium held in Des Moines, IA, titled “Pax Agricultura: Peace Through Agriculture.”  Due to widespread adoption of improved agricultural technologies and best farm management practices, especially in high-income countries, global agricultural output has increased by 60 percent, while global cropland has increased by just 5 percent, during the past 40 years. Between 1980 and 2015, productivity gains led to a 41 percent decrease in the amount of land used in U.S. corn production, irrigation water use declined 46 percent, greenhouse gas emissions declined 31 percent, and soil erosion declined (tons of soil loss per acre) by 58 percent.  The report, however, contrasts those improvements with what it terms “productivity gaps” between higher and lower income countries and outlines strategies for accelerating productivity to achieve an increase in crop and livestock outputs while using existing, or less, land, labor, fertilizer, capital, and livestock.

Biofuels: EPA Seeks Comment on Renewable Fuels Volumes
On October 15, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding its July 29, 2019, proposed rule Renewable Fuel Standard Program: Standards for 2020 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2021 (84 FR 36762).  With this supplemental notice, EPA requests comment on adjustments to “annual renewable fuel percentage” calculations, which are used to determine the amounts of renewable fuel required to be blended into fuel produced by parties subject to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.  While EPA specifies that this notice leaves the proposed 2020 and 2021 volume standards unchanged, it seeks comment on 2020 projected volumes of exempted diesel and gasoline fuels from small refinery exemptions.  Because EPA expects to permit “partial exemptions in appropriate circumstances,” it intends to use these projected volumes, informed by the Department of Energy’s recommended “three-year average of relief,” to determine the calculation of renewable fuel percentages.  EPA will hold a public hearing in Ypsilanti, Michigan on October 30, 2019, and intends to finalize the rule before the end of 2019.  Comments may be submitted following the hearing until November 29, 2019, at Regulations.gov Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OAR–2019–0136.

 Pesticides: EPA Opens Comment Period on Paraquat Dichloride
On October 16, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted notice in the Federal Register of the available comment period for the registration review of Paraquat Dichloride Draft Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessments (84 FR 55314).  Paraquat dichloride, also known as Gramoxone, is an herbicide widely used to control weeds and defoliate crops before harvest.  Because paraquat is highly toxic to humans, all paraquat products in the U.S. are registered as Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) and may only be purchased and used by trained certified applicators.  To ensure continuing pesticide safety and registration based on “current scientific and other knowledge,” EPA conducts periodic reviews of pesticide registrations.  As part of its review process, EPA seeks public comment on its draft assessment of risks to human health and the environment.  Interested parties can comment on the Federal Register or Regulations.gov Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0855 until December 16, 2019.

From National Ag Law Experts:
Paul Goeringer, Baltimore City Food Truck Ordinance Is Constitutional (October 22, 2019)

Penn State Research:
Matthew Carroll, Biological Material Boosts Solar Cell Performance (October 21, 2019)

Pennsylvania General Assembly:
HB 1950 “An Act amending the act of July 10, 1981 (P.L.234, No.76), known as the Donated Food Limited Liability Act, further providing for donor immunity and for charitable or religious organization immunity,” Referred to Agriculture and Rural Affairs (October 21, 2019)

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture

Department of Labor and Industry

Department of Transportation

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture:

U.S. House Agriculture Committee Actions:
H.R.4773 “To amend the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to make grants for the purpose of improving the farm management knowledge and skills of livestock producers,” Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture (October 21, 2019)
H.R.4772 “To provide for the protection of proprietary information provided to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and for other purposes,” Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture (October 21, 2019)
H.R.4770 “To revise and improve the advisory committees of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission,” Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture (October 21, 2019)
H.R.4767 “To promote innovation in financial services, and for other purposes,” Referred to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Agriculture (October 21, 2019)
H.R.4765 “To amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to provide for certain payment limitations with respect to commodity programs, and for other purposes,” Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture (October 18, 2019)
H.R.4755 “To establish the Food Safety Administration to protect the public health by preventing foodborne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants . . . .” Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Agriculture (October 18, 2019)
H.R.4714 “To prioritize funding for an expanded and sustained national investment in agriculture research,” Referred to the Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on the Budget (October 17, 2019)
H.R.4642 “Community Broadband Mapping Act,” Introduced (October 17, 2019)
H.R.4696 “To provide for cooperation between the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and foreign regulators,” Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture (October 16, 2019)
H.R.4684 “To amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make breakfasts and lunches free for all children, and for other purposes,” Referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, and the Committees on Agriculture, and Science, Space, and Technology (October 15, 2019)
  
U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, And Forestry Committee Actions:
S.2609 “A bill to amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make breakfasts and lunches free for all children, and for other purposes,” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry (October 16, 2019)
S.2599 “A bill to amend the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 to provide assistance to manage farmer and rancher stress and for the mental health of individuals in rural areas, and for other purposes,” Read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry (October 15, 2019)

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Agriculture Department

Agricultural Marketing Service

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Environmental Protection Agency

Federal Railroad Administration

Fish and Wildlife Service

Food and Nutrition Service

Internal Revenue Service

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

Follow us on Twitter at PSU Ag & Shale Law (@AgShaleLaw) to receive AgLaw HotLinks:

Connect with us on FacebookEvery week we will post the CASL Ledger which details all our publications and activities from the week.

Want to get updates, but prefer to listen? Check out the Agricultural Law PodcastWe can always be found on our Libsyn page, iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.


Review last month’s biggest legal developments in agriculture in the September 2019 Agricultural Law BriefIf you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!