Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney
The following information is an update of recent, local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:
Animal Welfare: USDA Proposes Rule Amending Organic Livestock and Poultry Production Requirements
On April 13, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would amend the organic livestock and poultry production requirements (81 FR 21955). According to the proposed rule, the proposal would “add new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expand and clarify existing requirements covering livestock health care practices and mammalian living conditions.” The comment period for the proposed rule closes June 13, 2016.
Pipelines: Proposed Rule on Safety of Transmission and Gathering Lines Published
On April 8, 2016, the United States Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published notice of a proposed rule in the Federal Register “to revise the Pipeline Safety Regulations applicable to the safety of onshore gas transmission and gathering pipelines” (81 FR 20721). According to the proposed rule, the proposal is intended to provide “additional safety measures to increase the level of safety for those pipelines that are not in HCAs [High Consequence Areas] as well as clarifications and selected enhancements to integrity management requirements to improve safety in HCAs.” The comment period for the proposed rule closes June 7, 2016.
Animal Classification: USDA Amends Definition of “Roaster” Chickens
On April 13, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule “amending the definition and standard of identity for the ‘roaster’ or ‘roasting chicken’ poultry class to better reflect the characteristics of ‘roaster’ chickens in the market today” (81 FR 21706). According to the final rule, because “[g]enetic changes and management techniques have continued to reduce the grow-out period and increased the RTC [ready-to-cook] weight for this poultry class,” the new definition of roaster “remove[s] the 8-week minimum age criterion and increase[s] the RTC carcass weight from 5 pounds to 5.5 pounds.” The effective date for the final rule is January 1, 2018.
Industrial Hemp: Legislation Moves to Senate Committee
On April 12, 2016, Pennsylvania House Bill 967 (HB 967), legislation that would legalize the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes, was referred to the Pennsylvania Senate’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee. The action comes as a result of the recent unanimous vote by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to pass HB 967 (see previous Penn State Agricultural Law Blog article).
Food Safety: USDA Proposes Permitting Honduran Poultry into the U.S.
On April 13, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published notice in the Federal Register of a proposed rule for the inclusion of Honduras on the list of countries eligible to export poultry products into the United States (81 FR21758). According to the proposed rule, “FSIS review of Honduras' laws, regulations, and inspection system demonstrated that its poultry slaughter inspection system is equivalent to the system FSIS has established under the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) and its implementing regulations.” The comment period for the proposed rule closes June 13, 2016.
Animal Slaughter: Vermont Senate Committee Discusses On-Farm Slaughter Bill
On April 12, 2016, the Vermont Senate Committee on Agriculture held discussion regarding Vermont House Bill 860 (H.860); legislation that would extend an exemption authorizing on-farm animal slaughter activities through July 1, 2019. The action came as a result of a March 17, 2016 vote by the Vermont House of Representatives to pass H.860. Currently, Vermont’s law providing exemption for on-farm animal slaughter is scheduled to expire on July 1, 2016.
SNAP: Information Collection Request Approved
On April 8, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service published notice in the Federal Register of approval of a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Final Rule Information Collection Request (ICR) (81 FR 20524). The ICR approval was published in connection to a final rule, published on January 19, 2016, amending SNAP operations, reporting, reviews, definitions, and coupons (81 FR2725).