Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—July 20, 2016

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:

PA Tax Code: Governor Signs Tax Legislation Favorable to Agriculture
On July 13, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into a law Act 84 which amended the Pennsylvania Tax Reform Code of 1971 and included three changes favorable to agriculture.  First, the sale and transfer of agricultural conservation easements are now exempt from Pennsylvania realty transfer taxes.  Second, the legislation provides for an inheritance tax exemption for family farm businesses where the transfer of assets involves a corporation or trust.  Third, the legislation provides for a tax exemption for commercial timbering operations.

Industrial Hemp: PA Governor Approves Growth and Cultivation
On July 20, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 92 which permits the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes in Pennsylvania.  According to Bill's cosponsors, Reps. Russ Diamond (R- Lebanon County) and Marty Flynn (D- Lackawanna County), industrial hemp can provide “fibers for textiles,…[and be] used to manufacture biodegradable plastics, building materials, food, paper, environmental, and energy products.” The representatives stated that “[c]ompanies overseas are switching out potentially dangerous fiberglass insulation with hemp insulation…[and that] [f]armers are cultivating the plant in between growing seasons as a cover crop for its ability to keep valuable nutrients in the soil.”

Clean and Green: Use Value Changes become Law
On July 20, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 89 which amends the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act of 1974 (Clean and Green) providing preferential tax assessment of agricultural and farmland.  The new legislation prohibits the application of use values that result in assessments higher than fair market value.  

Pesticides: EPA Publishes Notice Regarding Certain Pesticides
On July 15, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register entitled: Amendments to Terminate Uses for Certain Pesticide Registrations (81 FR 46075).  According to the Federal Register, the “notice announces EPA's final order for the amendments to terminate uses, voluntarily requested by the registrants and accepted by the Agency, [for certain pesticides] pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).” The cancellations under the order became effective July 15, 2016.

Proposed Rule: Importation of Sheep and Goats
On July 18, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published notice in the Federal Register of a proposed rule “to amend the regulations that govern the importation of animals and animal products to revise the conditions for the importation of live sheep, goats, and certain other non-bovine ruminants, and products derived from sheep and goats, with regard to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie” (81 FR 46619).  The comment period for the proposed rule closes September 16, 2016.

Final Rule: Non-Ambulatory Disabled Veal Calves
On July 18, 2016, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule amending the agency’s requirements for the disposition of non-ambulatory disabled veal calves (81 FR 46570).  According to FSIS, the amendments remove a provision in the regulations requiring that ante-mortem inspection to be conducted in pens.  FSIS stated that the “final rule makes clear that FSIS inspectors have the authority to conduct ante-mortem inspection and condemn non-ambulatory disabled veal calves the moment they arrive on the premises of the establishment.”

European Union: EU Commission Announces €500 million Support Package for Farmers
On July 18, 2016, the European Union (EU) Commission issued a press release “present[ing] a new package of measures worth €500 million from EU funds to support farmers in the face of ongoing market difficulties, particularly on the dairy market.”  According to the press release, the package contained three main elements: (1) a scheme to provide incentives to reduce milk production; (2) conditional adjustment aid that will allow Member States to receive matching funds; and (3) technical measures to provide flexibility, cash-flow relief, and safety net resources.

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