Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to Pennsylvania agriculture:
Litigation: PA Federal Judges Certifies Class Action against Egg Producers
On February 2, 2016, United States District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted a motion to certify a class action in a case involving an alleged conspiracy by the nation’s leading egg producers to inflate prices by limiting the supply of eggs (Case No. 08-md-2002). Appointed as class representatives are T.K. Ribbing’s Family Restaurant, LLC; John A. Lisciandro d/b/a Lisciandro’s Restaurant; Eby-Brown Company; and Karetas Foods, Inc.
Labeling: FDA Bans Importation of GE Salmon
On January 29, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the department will “not allow the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food that contains genetically engineered salmon, until FDA publishes final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of such content (Import Alert 99-40).” The alert did not provide a timetable for the completion of the final labeling guidelines.
Biotechnology: New Monsanto Biotech Soybean Now Available
On February 3, 2016, Monsanto announced that the company had received import approval from China for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. The Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are genetically modified to be tolerant to both glyphosate and dicamba herbicides, and as a result China’s import approval, will now be made “available in the United States and Canada in time for the 2016 season.”
International: China Seeks to Modernize Farm Policy
On February 4, 2016, the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development reported that China appears to be shifting its agricultural industry towards a modern, market-base system. Specifically, according to the report, there appears to be a movement towards “the reform of the maize purchasing and storage system, [to] reflect market supply and demand in corn prices.” Additionally, the report stated that “[w]hile the timing and specifics of the new approach remain unclear…Beijing was believed to favour making compensation payments to farmers when prices fell short of a target price, instead of purchasing stocks to support prices when these fell below a pre-established floor.”
Research: USDA Awards over $30 Million for Research Projects
On February 3, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the department had awarded “$30.1 million in competitive grants to fund 80 research projects to improve food safety, reduce antibiotic resistance in food, and increase the resilience of plants in the face of climate change.” According to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the research funding was necessary because “[i]n the face of diminishing land and water resources and increasingly variable climatic conditions, food production must increase to meet the demands of [a] world population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050.”