Thursday, August 16, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - August 16, 2018

Written by:
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

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

Pesticides: Court of Appeals Orders EPA to Revoke Tolerance for Chlorpyrifos
On August 9, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) order maintaining a tolerance for the pesticide chlorpyrifos.  EPA’s 2017 order found that there was “significant uncertainty” regarding the health effects of chlorpyrifos.  According to the court, this conflicts with requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).  With regard to a pesticide tolerance, FDCA uses the term ‘safe’ when the EPA Administrator “has determined that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue” (21 U.S.C. § 346a(b)(2)(A)(ii)). The Appeals Court remanded the case to EPA and directed them to revoke all tolerances and cancel registrations for chlorpyrifos.

Dairy Policy: Department of Agriculture Announces New Dairy Insurance Plan
On August 8, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency announced a new revenue protection insurance plan for dairy producers. The insurance plan will insure dairy producers against unexpected declines in quarterly milk sales. The plan will cover 70 to 95 percent of revenue and will insure the difference between the final revenue guarantee and actual milk revenue. Producers will be able to sign up for new program on October 9, 2018, and coverage will begin in the first quarter of 2019.

Pesticide: California Jury Awards $289 Million to Plaintiff for Injuries Resulting from Glyphosate Exposure
On August 10, 2018, a jury in the Superior Court of the State of California for San Francisco produced a verdict awarding $289 million to a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Monsanto.  The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, claimed that the herbicide glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup caused him to have cancer. The plaintiff worked as a groundskeeper for a school district and applied Roundup to the school grounds. The plaintiff had direct contact with the herbicide and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at age 42.

Raw Milk: Comments Requested for Proposed Regulation of Raw Milk Cheese in Pennsylvania
On August 10, 2018, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, published a press release requesting comment on a proposed regulation for raw milk cheese.  The purpose of the regulation is to align Pennsylvania’s standards for raw milk with federal standards. Current Pennsylvania regulations only allow 9 standardized cheeses to be produced from raw milk, whereas 57 types of cheese may be produced under the Food and Drug Administration regulations. In Pennsylvania, there are 90 manufacturers who produce cheese from raw milk and the Department of Agriculture expects this number to grow if the regulation is approved.  The proposed regulation was published on August 4th and the comment period will close September 4, 2018.

From National Ag Law Experts:
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, 2018 NASS US and State Cash Rent Survey Results Published, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (August 15, 2018).

Dr. Steve Suppan, Regulate New GE Techniques?, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (August 8, 2018)

Kristine A. Tidgren, Highlights from 199A Proposed Regulations, The Ag Docket (August 13, 2018).

Pennsylvania Notices
Senate Bill 1227, provides for resident fishing licenses, referred to Game and Fisheries (August 9, 2018)

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Stay Informed:
Listen to our weekly Agricultural Law Podcast
Read our monthly Agricultural Law Brief newsletter     
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Visit The Ag & Food Law Blog for a comprehensive summary of daily judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - August 9, 2018

Written by:
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

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

Right to Farm Laws: Third Jury Verdict Issued Against Smithfield Farms Subsidiary
On August 3, 2018, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a verdict of  $473.5 million against Murphy-Brown, LLC. The lawsuit was brought by neighbors of a swine operation located in Pender County. According to the News&Observer, the plaintiffs filed this nuisance lawsuit because of the noise, odor, flies, and other disruptions relating to the nearby swine operation. The damages awarded to each of the six plaintiffs ranged from 3 to 5 million dollars in addition to 75 million dollars in punitive damages for each individual. Recent legislation amending North Carolina’s right to farm law imposed limitations upon damages that may be awarded in nuisance lawsuits against agricultural operations. As a result, the amount of damages in this jury verdict may be reduced. This is the third verdict this year issued against Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. To read more about these recent verdicts, please see our Agricultural Law Brief for May 2018 and the Agricultural Law Weekly Review - July 5, 2018.

Food Labeling: Center for Food Safety Files Suit Against USDA for Failure to Establish GMO Labeling Regulations
On August 1, 2018, the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The complaint alleges that USDA has failed to meet required deadlines under the 2016 Federal Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standards Act (the Act). According to the complaint, the Act established basic bioengineered food disclosure standards and required USDA to issue regulations to fully implement the Act. The mandatory deadline for the promulgation of these regulations was July 29, 2018. The plaintiffs state that the failure to implement the new regulations constitutes unlawful withholding of information, and they request that the court order USDA to finalize the regulations.  (Center for Food Safety v. Perdue, Case No. 18-4633)

Food Labeling: Lawsuit Filed Against Nestle for “No GMO” Label
On July 27, 2018, a proposed class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Nestle USA, Inc. The complaint alleges that Nestle has misled consumers about its products that have a “No GMO Ingredients” label. According to the plaintiffs, Nestle did not receive independent third party approval for their products and instead created their own label. The plaintiffs claim that the label was created to mimic the label used by the Non-GMO Project. The Non-GMO Project is an independent third party verification company which tests and verifies products that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The plaintiffs argue that Nestle’s label is deceptive and that many of Nestle’s products contain ingredients derived from GMOs. (Latiff v. Nestle, Case No. 2:18-cv-6503).

Pesticides: Fish and Wildlife Service Lifts Ban on GMOs and Pesticides within Wildlife Refuges
On August 2, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a memorandum withdrawing a previously issued memorandum that restricted the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and certain pesticides within wildlife refuges. The earlier memorandum Use of Agricultural Practices in Wildlife Management in the National Wildlife Refuge System, announced that FWS would be phasing out the use of GMO crops and neonicotinoid pesticides. The first memorandum expressed concern that neonicotinoid use could affect non-target species. The recent FWS memorandum reverses the ban and states that use of GMO seeds and neonicotinoid pesticides could be essential in certain wildlife areas and should only be used on a case-by-case basis. Neonicotinoids were first restricted by the European Commission in 2013 in order to protect honeybees.     

Conservation Programs: Chesapeake Bay Watershed Three Year Action Plan is Released
On August 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Action Plan as part of a three-year plan to improve water quality within the Chesapeake Bay. The plan prioritizes professional training, public engagement, technology and data guides, and farm planning. Conservation practices will be applied to improve water quality on 920,000 acres. In addition, NRCS aims to improve soil health for 700,000 acres and improve wildlife habitat on 120,000 acres.

Biotechnology: European Commission Approves Five GMOs for Food and Feed Use
On August 3, 2018, the European Commission announced that they have authorized five genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for food and feed use. The authorization applies to two new GMO maize varieties, two previously authorized maize varieties, and a previously authorized sugar beet variety. The authorization does not permit these GMOs to be used for cultivation. To receive authorization by the Commission, each GMO must receive a favorable scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority. Authorizations by the European Commission for GMOs are valid for ten years.

Pesticides: Brazilian Judge Issues Temporary Ban of Glyphosate
A Brazilian judge has issued a ruling banning the use of products containing the herbicide glyphosate, the insecticide abamectin, and the fungicide thiram, according to an August 6, 2018, article from Reuters. The decision prohibits any new products containing these chemicals from being registered within the country. In addition, current registrations have been suspended for the next 30 days while the government completes an evaluation. Monsanto has announced that they will file an appeal to this ruling. Monsanto markets glyphosate-resistant soybeans, a Roundup Ready product, within Brazil.  

From National Ag Law Experts:
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, How Can Landowners Protect Themselves from Liability, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (July 30, 2018).

Josh Wise, Uprooted Episode 40: Giving to farmers with one hand, taking a whole lot more with the other, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (August 7, 2018)

Kristine A. Tidgren, Guidance is Trickling in, but Nothing Big Yet, The Ag Docket (July 31, 2018).
  
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Stay Informed:
Listen to our weekly Agricultural Law Podcast
Read our monthly Agricultural Law Brief newsletter     
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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, August 2, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - August 2, 2018


Written by:
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

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

Air Quality: EPA Publishes Final Rule Regarding Reporting Exemptions for CERCLA and EPCRA
On August 1, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releasedfinal rule addressing emission reporting requirements for agricultural operations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). On May 2, 2018, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a mandate enforcing an earlier order vacating EPA’s final rule, CERCLA/EPCRA Administrative Reporting Exemptions for Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste at Farms (73 FR 7648). This most recent final rule removes the emission reporting exemptions and definitions from CERCLA and EPCRA regulations to comply with the court mandate and the earlier order, dated April 11, 2017. On March 23, 2018, Congress passed the FARM Act in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. The FARM Act amends CERCLA to exempt farms from reporting air emissions from animal waste. This final rule revises CERCLA regulations to comply with the FARM Act amendments. According to EPA, because these air emissions are now exempt from CERCLA reporting, they also are exempt from EPCRA reporting requirements.

Food Labeling: FDA Announces Intent to Review Milk Labels on Plant-Based Products
On July 26, 2018, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement from the Commissioner regarding identity standards for dairy products. The Commissioner stated that FDA will be reviewing food labels for plant-based foods that are being advertised as substitutes for standard dairy products.  Plant-based products can be made from soy, almond, or rice and are being labeled by manufacturers as “milk.” FDA will examine the differences between plant-based products and dairy in relation to potential health consequences. Traditional dairy products and plant-based products contain nutritional differences relating to protein and vitamin content. FDA will review whether consumers understand the dietary differences and whether they are being misled when the term milk is applied to plant-based products.

Biotechnology: Bayer Cotton Variety Gains Deregulated Status under APHIS Biotechnology Regulations
On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that Bayer’s genetically engineered CropScience cotton variety will no longer be regulated under the APHIS biotechnology regulations (7 CFR part 340). Bayer’s cotton variety is engineered to resist the herbicides glyphosate and p-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase-inhibitors. In their draft environmental assessment, APHIS issued a preliminary finding of no significant impact and concluded that the cotton variety is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants. Bayer’s cotton variety still will be subject to APHIS foreign quarantine notices (7 CFR part 319) and the Federal Seed Act (7 CFR 201, 361).

Biotechnology: European Union Rules that Mutagenesis Qualifies as a GMO
On July 25, 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that organisms created by mutagenesis techniques fall within the meaning of the GMO directive. Mutagenesis involves techniques that are used to develop seed varieties resistant to specific herbicides. With this process, the genome of the plant species can be altered without inserting foreign DNA. The court found that this technique alters the genetic material of an organism in an unnatural way and therefore falls within the meaning of the GMO directive. The GMO directive requires that member states must subject genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to a risk assessment and also requires traceability, labeling, and monitoring.

Pesticides: Bayer Announces Intent to Appeal Neonicotinoid Ban
On July 27, 2018, Bayer’s North American Crop Science Division announced it would be appealing a ruling issued by the Court of the European Union that bans neonicotinoids, according to Brownfield. Neonicotinoids (Neonics) are systemic pesticides that are toxic to insects but less toxic to mammals and birds. In 2013, the EU severely restricted the use of three Neonics, including clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam, in order to protect honeybees. The 2013 restriction applied only to the use of Neonics in bee-attractive crops, such as maize, oilseed rape, and sunflower. On May 30, 2018, the EU completely banned the outdoor use of these Neonics.

Food Safety: Feedback Period Opens for EU Draft Regulation on Salmonella Testing
On July 19, 2018, the feedback period opened for a draft regulation issued by The European Commision regarding Salmonella testing. The purpose of the regulation is to detect and control Salmonella and other zoonotic agents during poultry production, processing, and distribution to reduce risk to the public. The draft regulation includes requirements on sampling and testing, but allows for a transitional period to give food operators time to adapt to the new standards. Comments on the draft regulation, Certain Methods for Salmonella Testing and Sampling in Poultry, will be accepted until August 16, 2018.

From National Ag Law Experts:
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, Weekly Round Up, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (July 27, 2018).

Sharon Anglin Treat, Five Red Flags for Food, Farming and Fair Trade Under the UK’s New Brexit Plan, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (August 1, 2018).

Kristine A. Tidgren, Iowa Court Upholds Intentional Interference with a Bequest Judgment, The Ag Docket (July 27, 2018).

Pennsylvania Notices
Informational meeting on SB 799, environmental stewardship & watershed protection (August 16, 2018)

Public Notice of draft NPDES General Permit for Discharges from Petroleum Product Contaminated Groundwater Remediation Systems (July 28, 2018).

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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, July 26, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - July 26, 2018


Written by:
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

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

Soda Tax: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Philadelphia Soda Tax
On July 18, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed that the Philadelphia City Council has the authority to enact the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax, better known as Philadelphia’s soda tax (Phila. Code, ch. 19-4100). The tax was introduced on March 3, 2016, and applies a 1.5 cent per fluid ounce tax to sugar-sweetened beverages.  A group of consumers, retailers, distributors, and producers brought this suit challenging the legality of the tax. They argued that the soda tax constituted a duplicative tax and was preempted under the Sterling Act. The current court ruling affirms the lower court’s ruling that the soda tax “does not apply to the same transaction or subject as the state sales and use tax,” and was therefore not duplicative. (Williams v. City of Phila., Nos. 2 & 3 EAP 2018)

Farm Bill: House Sends 2018 Farm Bill to Conference Committee
On July 18, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of sending the 2018 Farm Bill to conference committee. The committee members are tasked with resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. One of the primary differences between the two bills is the proposed work requirement changes in the House version of the bill for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The 2018 Farm Bill provides general updates and changes to Department of Agriculture programs including those in conservation, nutrition assistance, farm credit, rural development, crop insurance, and more.

International Trade: USDA Announces $12 Billion in Relief Programs to Agricultural Producers
On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced that the  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be providing monetary relief to farmers affected by the impacts of foreign trade changes. USDA estimates the impact on agricultural goods to be approximately $11 billion and will authorize $12 billion in relief programs. USDA will provide payments to affected farmers and purchase surplus commodities to distribute these foods to various nutrition programs.  According to USDA, the market disruption was caused by China’s retaliatory tariffs imposed on agricultural products. Affected agricultural commodities include soybeans, sorghum, milk, pork, fruits, nuts, and specialty crops.

Agricultural Labor: H-2C Agricultural Work Visa Program Introduced into U.S. House of Representatives
On July 18, 2018, the AG and Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 6417), or H-2C, was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives, in an effort to improve upon the current H-2A program. H-2C would be a nonimmigrant work visa program for agricultural workers. The bill mandates a gradual phase-in of the E-verify system, a web-based program that checks social security numbers of new employees. The previous paper-based I-9 system would be repealed.  The H-2C program would be available throughout the year and would allow 450,000 worker visas. The H-2C bill also includes wage requirements but does not require employers to provide housing and transportation for their workers. The primary sponsor of the bill is House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.

Checkoff Programs: Christmas Tree Producers Vote in Favor of Federal Promotion Program
On July 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that U.S.Christmas tree producers and importers have voted in favor of the federal research and promotion program. The promotion program is operated by the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, a 12 member board consisting of producers across the U.S. The assessment rate is $0.15 per Christmas tree sold within the U.S. The assessment does not apply to businesses that sell fewer than 500 trees annually. The assessment funds are used for promotion, research, and information gathering in order to increase the demand for Christmas trees. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service held a referendum during May 2018, and 51% of producers and importers voted to continue the program.

From National Ag Law Experts:

Uprooted Episode 39: The Science of Beef and Greenhouse Gases, Josh Wise, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, July 20, 2018

Pennsylvania Notices
Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council meeting, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (July 14, 2018)

Pennsylvania Malt & Brewed Beverage Industry Board solicits grant proposals for promotion, marketing and research projects (July 21, 2018).

Joint Agriculture and Rural Affairs informational committee meeting at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center (August 15, 2018)

Milk Marketing Board to conduct a public hearing for Milk Marketing Areas 1-6 regarding the level and duration of the Class I over-order Premium on September 5, 2018 in Harrisburg.

Milk Marketing Board to conduct a public hearing for Milk Marketing Areas 1-6 regarding cooperative milk procurement costs on October 3, 2018 in Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania Legislation
SB 1171: provides for the creation of a new Farm Animal Advisory Board to give farmers more input into environmental regulations (passed in the Senate June 20, 2018, referred to House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee June 21, 2018)
*this has been updated to correct an inaccuracy within a previous Weekly Review.

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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, July 19, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—July 19, 2018


Written by:
Sara Jenkins—Research Assistant
M. Sean High—Staff Attorney
                 
The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

WOTUS: EPA and Army Seek Additional Comment Regarding Repeal of WOTUS Rule
On July 12, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) published notice in the Federal Register seeking additional comment on the agencies proposal to repeal the 2015 rule defining Waters of the United States (WOTUS) (83 FR 32227).  On July 27, 2017, EPA and the Army announced a proposal to permanently repeal the 2015 WOTUS rule (82 FR 34899).  Subsequently, the agencies accepted comments on the proposed repeal from July 27, 2017, through September 27, 2017.  During that time, the agencies received more than 685,000 comments from interested parties.  Because of this large response, EPA and the Army determined that it would be in the public interest to provide an additional opportunity for comment.  Accordingly, the agencies will accept comments until August 13, 2018.  Nevertheless, EPA and the Army stated, that “regardless of the timing or ultimate outcome of [the] additional rulemaking, the agencies are proposing a permanent repeal of the 2015 Rule at this stage.”

Food Labeling: FDA Intends to Limit the Labeling of “Milk” to Dairy Products
On July 17, 2018, Politico reported that U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s intends to enforce regulations recognizing the term “milk” as a dairy product, instead of a plant-based product.  The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) previously sent comments to the FDA calling for enforcement action to be taken.  The NMPF was encouraged by Gottlieb’s comments, stating that several non-dairy products were misleading to consumers because they did not contain the same nutritional value as dairy products.  The NMPF is hopeful that the FDA will begin enforcing federal labeling standards soon, holding food marketers accountable for the terms used on non-dairy products.

Agricultural Labor: USDA Releases Guidance on Changes to Housing for Seasonal Farm Workers
On July 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released guidance on changes to the Housing Act of 1949 which now permits H-2A employers to gain access to Section 514 Farm Labor Housing loans (Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018).  Secretary Perdue expressed his support for the change, stating that Congress’ decision created a much-needed housing solution for temporary farm workers.  The pre-application for Section 514 FLH loans is available now, and must be submitted by August 27, 2018.

Water Quality: Ohio Gov. Signs Executive Order to Reduce Agricultural Runoff into Lake Erie
On July 11, 2018, Cleveland.com reported that Ohio Governor, John Kasich, signed an executive order allowing the Department of Agriculture to more closely regulate farming activities affecting Lake Erie water quality.  The order allows the Department of Agriculture to set certain requirements and nutrient management plans for farmers.  For a more detailed analysis of Governor Kasich’s action see Peggy Kirk Hall’s article “Agricultural nutrients targeted in Clean Lake 2020 bill and Kasich Executive Orders” appearing in the Ohio Agricultural Law Blog on July 12, 2018. 

Animal Welfare: California Voters Advance Animal Welfare Initiative for November Ballot
According to Feedstuffs, the Prevent Cruelty California (Prop 12) campaign received more than 660,000 signatures, moving it to California’s November ballot. Prop 12 would require that pork, eggs, and veal sold in the state meet certain standards including cage-free requirements and ensuring the animals were not confined in a cruel manner.  The ballot measure would require a minimum of 144 sq. in. of floor space for each egg-laying hen, 24 sq. ft. for each breeding pig, and 43 sq. ft. for each veal calf.  If passed, farms would have until the end of 2019 to comply with the calf requirements, and until the end of 2021 to comply with pig and hen requirements.

FSMA: FDA Expands Funding to $32.5 Million for States Implementing Produce Safety Rule
On July 12, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced $32.5 million in funding supporting state efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule.  The rule sets standards for safe growing, harvesting, and transporting of fruits and vegetables.  Currently, 46 states have signed cooperative agreements with the FDA, establishing outreach, education, and inspection programs to help implement the rule.  Participating states may use the funds for determining resource and infrastructure needs, conducting trainings, and recruiting personnel among other things.

Food Policy: Major Food Companies Create New Alliance to Improve Public Policy in the Food Industry
On July 12, 2018, four major food companies (Danone North America; Mars, Incorporated; NestlĂ© USA; and Unilever United States) announced the creation of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance.  The Alliance encourages member companies to do more in advancing solutions to issues in the food industry.  For example, the Alliance advocates for public policy in five particular areas: consumer transparency, environment, food safety, nutrition, and communities. The four member companies are currently focusing on nutrition labeling, supporting a clearer definition of general terms like “healthy.” The Alliance encourages open dialogue on problems facing the U.S. food system, and seeks to impact positive change.

Agribusiness: Man Steals More Than $3 Million in Grain from Ohio Farmers
On July 9, 2018, Farm and Dairy reported that Richard J. Schwan, operator of Schwan Grain Inc., plead guilty to several theft charges totaling over $3 million in grain from thirty-five farmers.  Schwan was hired by the victims to transport and sell their grain.  Schwan filed several reports with the Ohio department of Agriculture falsifying information regarding sales of grain and deliberately withheld profits from the farmers who hired him.  Schwan was ordered to pay $3,222,209.70 in restitution and will be sentenced on August 23rd.

From National Ag Law Experts:
What do Produce Suppliers Give Up When They Waive Their PACA Trust Rights?, Nicole Cook, Maryland Risk Management Education Blog, July 17, 2018

Provisions to Watch During Farm Bill Debate, Kristine Tidgren, Iowa State University, The Ag Docket, July 10, 2018

Pennsylvania Legislation:
Agriculture and Rural Affairs (S)
HB 1518 legislation to require the appointment of two alternate farmer members to the Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board (referred to committee July 6, 2018)

SB 823 legislation amending Clean and Green eligibility regarding leases and agriculture related enterprises (referred to committee June 29, 2018)

Agriculture and Rural Affairs (H)
HB 2518 legislation amending the Agriculture Code regarding mobile food vendors (referred to committee June 19, 2018)

Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
Department of Conservation and Natural ResourcesConservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council meeting

Penn State Research:

AgLaw HotLinks:
AFBF President Asking for Trade Resolutions – Brownfield Ag News   
Why consumers fear GMO foods – Delta Farm Press

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, July 12, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - July 12, 2018


Written by:
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

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

Antitrust: Supermarket Chains File Antitrust Complaint Against Chicken Producers
On June 29, 2018, The Kroger Co., and other supermarket chains filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging illegal trade restraint practices in the chicken industry (The Kroger Co., et al. v. Tyson Foods Inc. et al., 1:18-cv-04534). The complaint was brought against Tyson Foods, Inc. and several other U.S. chicken producers. The plaintiffs allege that U.S. chicken producers violated federal antitrust laws by restraining trade to increase the price of chickens sold in the U.S. from 2008 to 2016. According to the plaintiffs, the chicken producers reduced the supply of broiler chickens and then manipulated wholesale chicken price indices.

Antitrust: Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. Pork Producers
On June 28, 2018, consumers filed a class action complaint against U.S. pork producers and Agri Stats, Inc. (Duryea, et al., v. Agri Stats., et al., 0:18-cv-01776) Agri Stats is a company that provides accounting and data information to customers in the poultry, egg, and swine industries. The complaint alleges that the pork producers and Agri Stats conspired to fix U.S. pork prices. According to the plaintiffs, the pork producers coordinated pork output and limited production to increase pork prices. The plaintiffs argue that through Agri Stats, the pork producers exchanged competitively sensitive non-public information regarding prices, capacity, sales volume, and demand. One of the pork producers, Hormel Foods, has released a statement arguing that the allegations are “completely without merit.”

Biosecurity: Kansas Adopts Cattle Disease Traceability Program
On June 30, 2018, Kansas announced the Cattle Trace pilot project. Cattle Trace is a public-private partnership which was created to manage cattle disease and provide critical tools in the event of an outbreak. Cattle Trace will be able to show where diseased or at-risk animals have been and when, in order for a fast and efficient response. The program will allow Kansas to test the limits of the traceability system and determine if it is capable of informing and guiding development on a national level. The Cattle Trace system was created following a vote of the Kansas Livestock Association.

Food Labeling: Comment Period Closes for Proposed Bioengineered Food Labeling Rule
On July 3, 2018, the comment period closed for the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) proposed rule, National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. The proposed rule would require food manufacturers to disclose information about bioengineered food and ingredient content on any foods sold in retail. According to AMS, food manufacturers are not required to disclose information about the health, safety, or environmental attributes of bioengineered food versus non-bioengineered food. The proposed rule suggests several options for disclosure including written statements, three alternative symbols, and electronic/digital link. The Secretary of Agriculture was directed by Congress to create a national bioengineered disclosure standard by July 29, 2018, through the enactment of Public Law 114-216 (7 U.S.C. 1621).

Animal Welfare: National Chicken Council Certifies Animal Welfare Guidelines for Broiler Chickens
On July 10, 2018, the National Chicken Council announced that their animal welfare guidelines have been certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization. The guidelines specifically apply to broiler and broiler breeder chickens and focus on bird behavior, recordkeeping, corrective action requirements, increased oversight, time requirements for euthanasia, and catching requirements. The guidelines require that the “birds must have enough space to express normal behaviors such as dust bathing, preening, eating, drinking, etc.” The guidelines also limit the number of birds permitted in a chicken house based on the size of the barn, equipment, and target weight of the birds.

International Trade: FAO Reports Decline in Overall Food Price Index for June
On July 5, 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released their monthly FAO Food Price Index (FFPI). The FFPI is a measure of the change in international prices, weighted with the average export shares. The FFPI includes five commodity groups, including cereal, vegetable, dairy, meat, and sugar. For June 2018, the overall FFPI decreased by 1.3 percent. According to FAO, price index decreases can be attributed to “rising tensions in international trade relations.” Cereal, vegetable, and dairy price indexes decreased by 3.7%, 3%, and 0.9%, respectively. The FAO meat price index increased by 0.3% and the sugar price index increased by 1.2%. The sugar price index increase is likely due to the high use of sugarcane for ethanol production in Brazil, according to FAO.

From National Ag Law Experts:
Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, QR Codes and GMOs: The Proposed Food Labeling Rule (July 10, 2018)
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, NM Land Commissioner Sues NM State Engineer Over Water Permits, Texas Agriculture Law (July 9, 2018)

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Visit The Ag & Food Law Blog for a comprehensive summary of daily judicial, legislative, and regulatory developments in agriculture and food


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Agricultural Law Weekly Review - July 5, 2018


Written by:
Jackie Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

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

Farm Bill: U.S. Senate Agrees to Latest Amendments in 2018 Farm Bill
On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Senate voted to pass its latest version of the 2018 Farm Bill with a vote of 86 to 11. Earlier, on June 21, 2018, the House of Representatives passed H.R.2, and the latest Senate action substantially amended H.R.2, including changing the name of the bill from the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.  Before the bill can go to a final vote, Congress must go conference to resolve legislative differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The 2018 Farm Bill provides updates and changes to Department of Agriculture programs including those in conservation, nutrition assistance, farm credit, rural development, crop insurance, and more.

Biofuels: EPA Releases Proposed Volume Requirements for Renewable Fuels
On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed volume requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program. The EPA sets renewable fuel percentage standards each year for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel as applied to gasoline and diesel transportation fuel. Part of the proposed volume requirements would increase the 2019 renewable fuel blending mandate to 19.88 billion gallons, an increase of 3 percent from 2018. EPA also plans to increase advanced biofuel requirements to 4.88 billion gallons and cellulosic biofuel to 381 million gallons. EPA will hold a public hearing for the proposed rule on July 18th and will accept public comment until August 17, 2018.

Right to Farm Laws: North Carolina Legislature Overrides Governor Veto to Approve Changes to Right to Farm Law
On June 27, 2018, the North Carolina House voted to override the governor’s veto of SB 711 which, now passed, will provide protections to farmers against nuisance lawsuits. The governor vetoed the bill on June 25th and the Senate voted to override the veto on June 26th. SB 711 adds language to the North Carolina Farm Act of 2018 to shield farmers who are operating in good faith from nuisance lawsuits that are filed after the operation has been established. The changes to the law include a requirement that counties must have land records that provide notice where a tract of land is located within half a mile from a poultry, swine, or dairy operation. The law prohibits any nuisance action from being filed against an agricultural operation unless the plaintiff’s property is directly affected, the affected property is within a one-half mile of the operation, AND the action is filed within one year of the establishment of the operation or within one year of the operation undergoing a fundamental change.

Antimicrobial Use: FDA Releases Guidance on Antimicrobial Animal Drug Sale Rule
On June 28, 2018, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a new guidance document regarding antimicrobial animal drug sales for small business entities. The guidance document, Antimicrobial Animal Drug Sales and Distribution Reporting Small Entity Compliance Guide, is intended to help small businesses understand and comply with “reporting regulations for antimicrobial animal drug sales and distribution information.” The guidance document was prepared following the 2016 publication of the final rule, Antimicrobial Animal Drug Sales and Distribution. The rule requires that sponsors of approved antimicrobial animal drug products must submit an annual report on the amount that is sold or distributed for use.

Right to Farm Laws: Court Awards $25 Million in Second Nuisance Lawsuit Against Hog Operation
On June 29, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina awarded $25 million to plaintiffs in a nuisance lawsuit filed against Smithfield Foods, according to NewsObserver (McGowan v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, No. 7:14-CV-182-BR). The plaintiffs are neighboring landowners who complained of flies, stench, rumbling trucks and other problems associated with living next to a hog farm. This is the second in a series of recent lawsuits filed against Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. In April, a jury awarded $50 million in damages to ten neighbors of another Smithfield hog operation (McKiver et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC, 7:2014cv00180). The damages award in the first case has since been reduced to $3.25 million due to North Carolina’s statutory cap on punitive damages.

From National Ag Law Experts:
Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, Uprooted Episode 38: Chatting with the IATP Board (June 27, 2018)
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, James v. Young: Are Landowners Liable for Horse Riding Injury to Child?, Texas Agriculture Law (July 2, 2018)

Pennsylvania Notices
Environmental Quality Board Meeting Cancellation, the Board meeting for July 17th is cancelled; the next regular meeting will be August 21, 2018 (June 30, 2018)

Pennsylvania Legislation
HB 2121 Commonwealth Budget 2018-2019 (signed by Governor, June 22, 2018)

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