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:
Referendum: North Dakota Votes against Corporate Farms
On June 14, 2016, North Dakota voters voted against Referred Measure 1 which appeared on the ballot as a veto referendum. As a result of the vote, Senate Bill 2351, state legislation “designed to allow domestic corporations and limited liability companies to own and operate dairy farms and swine production facilities on no more than 640 acres of land,” was repealed.
Drones: FAA Announces New Rule
On June 21, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a document announcing a Final Rule “amending its regulations to allow the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems in the National Airspace System.” According to FAA, “[t]hese changes address the operation of unmanned aircraft systems and certification of their remote pilots…[and] will also prohibit model aircraft from endangering the safety of the National Airspace System.” The document is currently being reviewed by the Office of the Federal Register; the Final Rule will become effective 60 days after the document is published in the Federal Register.
Animal Welfare: APHIS Updates Horse Disqualification and Civil Penalty List
On June 16, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published the latest updates to USDA’s Horse Protection Act Disqualification and Civil Penalty List which “identifies individuals and/or companies that have been assessed a Federal Disqualification under the Horse Protection Act.” According to APHIS, “[w]hile under Federal Disqualification, a person is prohibited from showing, exhibiting or entering any horse, directly or indirectly through any agent, employee, or other device, and from judging, managing or otherwise participating in any horse show, horse exhibition or horse sale or auction.”
Legislation: PA Senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee Reports Two Bills
On June 23, 2016, the Pennsylvania Senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs committee voted to report Senate Bill 1110 (SB1110) and House Bill 967 (HB 967) to the Pennsylvania Senate for first consideration. Accordingly, SB 1110 “would repeal the Noxious Weed Control Law (Act 74 of 1982) and replace it with the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act to better control existing and potentially noxious weeds, maximizing the control resources of invasive species and protecting state lands,” while HB 967 would legalize, for research purposes, the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp.