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:
Labor: California Governor Signs Bill Removing Agricultural Worker Overtime Exemption
On September 12, 2016, California Governor Edmund G. (“Jerry”) Brown signed into law legislation removing California’s agricultural worker overtime exemption (AB 1066). Prior to the enactment of AB 1066, California agricultural workers only received overtime pay if they worked more than 10 hours a day or 60 hours per week. Now, however, agricultural workers must receive overtime pay if they work in excess of 8 hours a day or 40 hours per week. The new law will phase in the new overtime requirements for agricultural worker over the course of 4 years, though agricultural producers with 25 or fewer employees will be given an additional 3 years to phase in the overtime requirements.
Trade: U.S. Brings WTO Action against China for Rice, Wheat, and Corn Support
On September 13, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a press release stating that “the Obama Administration has launched a new trade enforcement action against the People's Republic of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning excessive government support provided for Chinese production of rice, wheat, and corn.” According to USDA, China’s excessive government support violates WTO rules, have caused an inflation of prices above market levels, and have denied American rice, wheat, and corn farmers the ability to compete on a level playing field.
Litigation: Court Rules EPA’s Release of CAFO Information Violated FOIA
On September 9, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) when EPA released personal information pertaining to owners of concentrated feeding operations (American Farm Bureau Federation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Case No. 15-1234). The court remanded the case back to the district court to consider American Farm Bureau Federation’s request for injunctive relief.
FSMA: States to Receive $21.8 Million to Farmers Comply with Produce Rule
On September 9, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release announcing that the agency was “awarding…$21.8 million to support 42 states in the implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) produce safety rule.” According to FDA, the state “[a]pplicants were classified into five tiers of funding eligibility based on the estimated number of farms growing covered produce within their jurisdiction.” FDA stated that the funding is available for five years, subject to the availability of funding from Congress.
Quarantine: PDA Establishes Quarantine for Spotted Lanternfly
On September 10, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture published notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin of an Addendum to the Order of Quarantine regarding the Spotted Lanternfly (46 Pa.B. 5814). According to PDA, “[a] quarantine is hereby established with respect to Lyons Borough, Alsace Township, Exeter Township, St. Lawrence Borough, Berks County and Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County and West Pottsgrove, Montgomery County.” PDA stated that “[t]his is in addition to, and does not replace, any townships and areas already subject to the Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Order published at 44 Pa.B. 6947 issued Saturday, November 1, 2014, and any previous Addendums to that Quarantine Order.”