Thursday, October 17, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - October 17, 2019

Written by: 
Jackie Schweichler—Staff Attorney
Chloe Marie - Research Specialist 
Audry Thompson—Research Assistant
           
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Disaster Assistance Programs: Federal Disaster Aid Available for Farmers in Five Pennsylvania Counties
On October 8, 2019, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced the eligibility of farmers in Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties to receive federal disaster aid.  Due to excessive wet weather from January 1 through August 20, 2019, USDA designated 24 counties in Ohio as “primary natural disaster areas.”  The listed five Pennsylvania counties qualify as “contiguous counties” and are thereby eligible for assistance through several federal programs, namely emergency farm loans.  Among other criteria, farmers in a designated or contiguous county must have experienced at least a 30% decrease in a primary crop to claim eligibility for emergency loans.  Farmers experiencing losses due to quality of crops may also be eligible for assistance.  Previously, on September 10, 2019, Lackawanna and Wayne counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas.  This allowed producers in the following contiguous Pennsylvania and New York counties to receive emergency loans: Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, and Wyoming Counties in Pennsylvania and Broome, Delaware, and Sullivan Counties in New York.  Farmers have up to eight months following a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans, and the listed deadlines are June 4, 2020 for western Pennsylvania counties and April 29, 2020 for eastern Pennsylvania counties.  Interested producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office

Dairy Policy: PA Milk Marketing Board Makes Bond Claim Against Trickling Springs Creamery
On October 9, 2019, the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (Board) announced a claim against the milk dealer bond of Trickling Springs Creamery.  Under the Pennsylvania Milk Producer’s Security Act, milk dealers must secure deposits “equal to one month’s purchases,” which are then used to compensate milk producers if the dealer is unable to provide payment.  According to the announcement, on September 26, 2019, Trickling Springs informed producers of its termination and discontinuation of milk purchases, effective the following day, and disclosed its inability to pay its producers for milk received throughout September 2019 to the Board.  According to the Board, auditors are still determining how much money is owed to the unpaid producers, and that once determined, it will distribute the bond amounts accordingly.  As of the Board’s announcement, all producers affected by the Trickling Springs closure have secured alternate markets. 

Pesticides: California EPA Announces Agreement to End the Use of Chlorpyrifos in California by 2020
On October 9, 2019, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) issued a press release announcing an agreement to end most sales of the pesticide chlorpyrifos within California by 2020.  Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide used to control weeds and protect crops against soil insect pests.  In August 2018, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a draft scientific review entitled “Evaluation of Chlorpyrifos as a Toxic Air Contaminant” suggesting that the pesticide should be listed as a toxic air contaminant.  In light of this and other research, DPR announced its intention to cancel chlorpyrifos product registrations.  The present agreement between CalEPA and Dow Agrosciences, the company behind the chlorpyrifos patent, will accelerate the chlorpyrifos ban.  Dow Agrosciences and other companies will cease all sales of chlorpyrifos on February 6, 2020.  After December 31, 2020, the possession and use of chlorpyrifos by individual growers will be prohibited.  In the meantime, the use of chlorpyrifos will be subject to thorough control and restrictions. 

Technology: Study Examines the Impact of Inadequate Rural Broadband Connectivity
On October 9, 2019, the United Soybean Board released a new study on rural broadband access for U.S. farmers. The study is entitled Rural Broadband and the American Farmer and the data is based on surveys from over 2,000 agricultural operators.  Survey respondents expressed a need for improved internet connectivity in order to access data, maps, or internet solutions from the field.  According to the study, 60% of farmers say they do not have sufficient internet access to effectively run their business. One third of farmers stated that lack of internet accessibility had an impact on their farm equipment purchases.  Survey respondents also indicated that they are prevented from obtaining quality data to improve sustainability practices, including soil and water management. 

From National Ag Law Experts:
Brigit Rollins, On Pause: Roundup Case in Missouri Gets Postponed (October 9, 2019) 

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Marketing Service 

Agricultural Research Service 

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Environmental Protection Agency
“Indaziflam; Pesticide Tolerances,” Rule, (October 10, 2019)

Federal Communications Commission 

Federal Emergency Management Agency

International Trade Commission

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

Rural Housing Service 

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

House Agriculture Committee Actions: 
H.R.4642 “To allow Rural Utilities Service telecommunications grants to be made for the collection of broadband infrastructure data by local governments, economic development or other community organizations, electric or telephone cooperatives, and small internet providers,” Referred to Committee on Agriculture (October 11, 2019)
H.Res.623 “Recognizing and honoring National Mushroom Day and the contributions of Chester and Berks Counties to the national mushroom industry,” Referred to Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research (October 11, 2019)
H.Con.Res.66 “Urging all nations to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade and to enforce existing laws against such trade,” Referred to Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4476 “Financial Transparency Act of 2019,” Referred to Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4496 “Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Extension Act of 2019,” Referred to Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4521 “Fair Sugar Policy Act of 2019,”Referred to the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4535 “Commodity Futures Trading Commission Research and Development Modernization Act,” Referred to the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit (October 11, 2019)
H.R.4541 “To establish a grant program to provide certain eligible entities engaged in food recovery with grants to support certain costs,” Referred to the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations (October 11, 2019)

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, And Forestry Committee Actions: 
S.2568 “A bill to reform the Federal sugar program, and for other purposes,” Referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry (September 26, 2019)

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture

Department of Environmental Protection

Susquehanna River Basin Commission
“Public Hearing” (October 12, 2019)

Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture:

Penn State Research:
A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Costs of natural disasters are increasing at the high end (October 7, 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 September 2019 Agricultural Law Brief. If you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - October 10, 2019

Written by: 
Jackie Schweichler—Staff Attorney
Chloe Marie - Research Specialist 
Audry Thompson—Research Assistant
           
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

Taxation: IRS Announces Livestock Replacement Extension for Farmers Affected by Drought
On September 30, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced a one-year extension for farmers to replace livestock sold in response to severe drought conditions.  According to Notice 2006-82, qualifying sales are limited to livestock owned for draft, dairy, or breeding purposes.  The livestock must have been sold entirely on account of drought, and the farmer or rancher must have qualified for the four-year replacement period.  Farmers in applicable regions may now delay replacing livestock until the end of the tax year following the “first drought-free year” and may also defer capital tax gains during this period.  IRS states that, due to the four-year replacement period, this extension also applies to drought sales from 2015, and further notes that the agency is authorized to extend the replacement period during continued drought. 

Biofuels: EPA and USDA Announce Agreement on Renewable Fuel Standard Responsibilities
On October 4, 2019, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced an agreement on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  According to the announcement, EPA will work to “streamline labeling” and accommodate E15 sales by advancing rulemaking processes.  Additionally, EPA will propose and seek comments on increased biofuel requirements that expand on the 2020 Renewable Volume Standards (84 FR 36762).  These expanded requirements will aim to include 15 billion gallons of ethanol into the U.S. fuel supply starting in 2020.  According to the announcement, EPA intends to finalize these requirements later this year and will include exceptions for small refineries.  EPA noted that it granted thirty-one exemptions to small refineries in the most recent compliance year.  Under the announced agreement, USDA will support infrastructure projects promoting “higher biofuel blends.”

Organic Agriculture: USDA Reopens Public Comment Period for Proposed Organic Dairy Requirements
On October 1, 2019, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the reopening of the public comment period for a proposed rule that would amend organic regulations for dairy animals.  The proposed rule, National Organic Program; Origin of Livestock, was published on April 28, 2015.  The proposed rule would provide further clarification of the standard for the transition of dairy animals into organic production and for the management of breeder stock on organic operations.  More precisely, the proposed rule would establish a one-time transition exception allowing dairy producers to convert their conventional production farms into organic production.  Once the transition is complete, dairy producers would be required to raise all dairy animals, even the replacement ones, organically from the last third of gestation.  The public comment period will end on December 2, 2019. 

Food Safety: FDA Considers the Use of Silicon Dioxide as an Additive in Animal Feed
On October 1, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposed rule announcing that Evonik Corp. has filed a petition to allow the use of silicon dioxide in animal feed.  If the petition is accepted, it would amend Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 573 relating to food additives for animals.  Evonik Corp. states that silicon dioxide can be used as an anticaking agent, grinding aid, antifoaming agent, or as a component of animal feed. Evonik Corp. claims that silicon dioxide has no “significant effect on the human environment.”  According to USDA, silicon dioxide can also be used as a coating for cans and as a component in films, rubber, or cosmetics. 

Food Policy: Study Disputes Benefits of Reduced Red Meat Consumption 
On October 1, 2019, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a new study entitled Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium.  The researchers found that reducing the consumption of unprocessed red meat and processed meat does not necessarily lower the risks of cardiometabolic diseases or cancers and that many studies supporting the role of reduced meat consumption for better health did not provide sufficient evidence to justify their findings.  The researchers also claimed that the expected health benefits associated with reduced meat consumption are very little compared to the inherent challenges of changing dietary habits.  The researchers in this study suggest that adults from 18 years old should continue to consume unprocessed red meat and processed meat, contrary to current dietary guidelines issued by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer. 

From National Ag Law Experts:
Tiffany Dowell, Lawsuit Challenges Texas Drone Law (October 7, 2019)

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Marketing Service 

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Economic Development Administration

Environmental Protection Agency 

Farm Service Agency
Information Collection Request; Organic Certification Cost Share Program” Notice, Comment Period (October 4, 2019)

Federal Crop Insurance Corporation 
Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension Rule (October 4, 2019)

Food and Nutrition Service 

Forest Service 
Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committees Notice (October, 7, 2019)

Natural Resources Revenue Office 

House Agriculture Committee Actions: 
H.R.4604 “Small Financial Institution Certainty Act” Introduced (October 4, 2019)
H.R.4482 “Protecting America's Food and Agriculture Act of 2019” Introduced (September 24, 2019)

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Actions: 
S.2568 “A bill to reform the Federal sugar program, and for other purposes.” Introduced (September 26, 2019)

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Department of Community and Economic Development 

Department of Labor and Industry 

Executive Board

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Penn State Research:
A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Costs of natural disasters are increasing at the high end (October 7, 2019)

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!

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - October 3, 2019

Written by: 
Chloe Marie – Research Specialist
Audry Thompson—Research Assistant
Jackie Schweichler—Staff Attorney
           
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

State Regulation: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Concludes that the Nutrient Management Act Preempts Local Regulation of Non-Concentrated Agricultural Operations
On September 26, 2019, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed the Commonwealth Court’s order, holding that local governments cannot impose stricter nutrient management requirements on small farms than those already imposed upon large agricultural operations under the state Nutrient Management Act (NMA) (Russell Berner, et al., v. Montour Township, et al., No. 39 MAP 2018).  The question of whether and to what extent the NMA preempts local regulation of agricultural operations that are not “concentrated agricultural operations” (CAOs) became the central issue of this case.  Under the NMA, there is a requirement that CAOs must develop and implement a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) while smaller agricultural operations are not subject to this obligation.  The main objection here was that appellant Scott Sponenberg did not include an NMP when applying for a special exception with the Montour Township to construct a swine barn and manure storage facility.  According to the appellant, the proposed project was not required to have an NMP because it did not qualify as a larger agricultural operation under the NMA.  In the majority opinion, the Supreme Court explained that the NMA preemption provision applies to agricultural operations, regardless of whether they are CAOs or non-CAOs. The court specifically emphasized that not to allow preemption of local regulations for small agricultural operations would be “ironic” knowing that the state legislature never intended to allow local municipalities to burden and increase pressure on small-scale farmers with more stringent regulations compared to the regulations imposed upon larger farms.

International Trade: United States and Japan Sign Trade Agreement
On September 25, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo issued a joint statement after signing the United States-Japan Trade Agreement.  According to a fact sheet issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Japan will stage the complete removal of tariffs on $3 billion of agricultural products, including wine, cheese and whey, ethanol, frozen poultry, and processed pork.  Other products with staged tariff elimination include fresh and frozen beef and pork.  Additionally, the agreement immediately lifts tariffs on more than $1.3 billion of other U.S. agricultural products such as almonds, blueberries, cranberries, walnuts, sweet corn, and grain sorghum.  Some products such as wheat, glucose, fructose, corn starch, and potato starch, will receive a preferential tariff rate through Country Specific Quotas (CSQs).  In return, the United States will adjust its World Trade Organization (WTO) tariff rate quota for Japanese beef imports, and it will eliminate or reduce tariffs on more than $40 million of Japanese products including persimmons, green tea, chewing gum, confectionaries, and soy sauce.  

Crop Insurance: Producers Affected by Flooding and Moisture Receive Extra Insurance Payments
On September 26, 2019, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced the disbursement of “top-up” prevented plant payments to producers with indemnity payouts connected with flooding or moisture but unrelated to drought.  According to RMA, all producers who had Yield and Revenue Protection Policies with Harvest Price Exclusion will receive a bonus payment of 10% of their prevented plant indemnity payment.  Producers who had elected the Revenue Protection Harvest Price Option will receive an extra 5% of their indemnity payment.  Payments will automatically issue through producers’ Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) midway through October, and RMA assures that producers need not take any action to receive the payments.

National Agricultural Policy: USDA Invests $50 Million to Improve Public Access on Private Lands for Recreational Purposes
On September 27, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will contribute $50 million in funding to the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill.  USDA explained that this money will directly benefit state and tribal government programs, whose main objective is to further enhance public access to private lands for hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-dependent recreational purposes. Among the advantages offered by this new VPA-HIP funding opportunity, up to 25% of the funding may be used to improve habitat on enrolled public access and up to 10% may be used to provide technical assistance.  State and tribal governments have until November 27, 2019, to submit their grants proposals.

International Trade: Taiwan Commits to Purchase Illinois Corn and Soybean Over a Period of Two Years
On September 24, 2019, Illinois Governor Jay Robert Pritzker issued a statement that two Taiwanese associations – the Taiwan Feed Industry Association and the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association – committed to purchase Illinois corn and soybeans in the amount of $2.2 billion between 2020 and 2021.  More precisely, the statement says that the Taiwan Feed Industry Association intends to purchase 5 million metric tons (MT) of corn and 0.5 million MT of corn co-products.  As for the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association, it will buy between 2.6 million and 2.9 million MT of soybeans.  According to the announcement, Illinois exports over 360 million bushels of soybeans and 877 million bushels of corn each year.

From National Ag Law Experts:
Kristine A. Tidgren, Final 199A Safe Harbor for Rental Real Estate Changes Little (September 28, 2019)
Paul Goeringer, Frequently Updated Questions: Hey, Paul Does Growing Hemp Qualify for the Right-To-Farm Defense? (October 1, 2019)

Federal Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Marketing Service 
“National Organic Program; Origin of Livestock” Proposed Rule, Comment Period (October 1, 2019)

Agriculture Department

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Environmental Protection Agency

Food and Nutrition Service 

Food Safety and Inspection Service

Forest Service

Susquehanna River Basin Commission 
“Public Hearing” Notice, Comment Period (October 2, 2019)

House Agriculture Committee Actions: 
H.R.4333 “To amend the Commodity Exchange Act to provide certainty for futures customers and market participants, and for other purposes.” Introduced (September 25, 2019)
H.R.4496 “Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program Extension Act of 2019” Introduced (September 25, 2019)
H.R.4521 “To reform the Federal sugar program, and for other purposes.” Introduced (September 26, 2019)
H.R.4535 “To modernize the authority of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to conduct research, development, demonstration, and information programs.” Introduced (September 26, 2019)
H.R.4520 “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to eliminate certain fuel excise taxes and impose a tax on greenhouse gas emissions to provide revenue for maintaining and building American infrastructure, and for other purposes.” Introduced (September 27, 2019)
H.R.4541 “To establish a grant program to provide certain eligible entities engaged in food recovery with grants to support certain costs.” Introduced (September 27, 2019)
H.R.4541 “To establish a grant program to provide certain eligible entities engaged in food recovery with grants to support certain costs.” Introduced (September 27, 2019)

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, And Forestry Committee Actions: 
S.2568 “A bill to reform the Federal sugar program, and for other purposes.” Introduced (September 26, 2019)

Pennsylvania Executive Agencies—Actions and Notices:
Department of Agriculture

Department of Environmental Protection

Susquehanna River Basin Commission

Pennsylvania Legislative Actions:
HB 1102  “An Act establishing the Keystone Energy Authority; and providing for the designation of Keystone Energy Enhancement Zones,” re-committed to Appropriations (September 25, 2019)

Pennsylvania Department Of Agriculture:

Penn State Research:

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 Agricultural Law BriefIf you’d like to receive this update via email, check out our website and subscribe!