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:
Legal Settlement: Syngenta Agrees to Pay $1.2 M. for Selling Misbranded Pesticides
On September 16, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release stating that the agency has reached a settlement agreement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) for allegedly violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act through the repackaging, selling and distribution of unregistered and misbranded pesticides. As a result of the settlement agreement, Syngenta will pay $766,508 in civil penalties and spend $436,990 to implement an environmental compliance promotion Supplemental Environmental Project.
FSMA: PA Announces $6.3 M. to Implement Produce Safety Rule
On September 19, 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a press release announcing that the Commonwealth has received a $6.3 million Federal grant to assistance Pennsylvania produce growers in meeting requirements enacted under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). According to the press release, “The funding, spread across five years, gives the [Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture] resources to implement a produce safety system, develop and provide education and outreach, and to develop programs to address the specific and unique needs of the growers in Pennsylvania’s farming communities.”
GIPSA: Amendment Regarding Electronic Transactions Clears House Ag Committee
On September 14, 2016, the United States House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 5883 which would amend the Packers & Stockyards Act (GIPSA) “to expand the definition of ‘marketing agency’ to include any person engaged in the business of buying or selling livestock in commerce through online, video, or other electronic methods on a commission or other fee basis when handling or providing a means to handle receivables or proceeds from the sale of that livestock.” Additionally, according to the Bill Summary, H.R. 5883 would also amend GIPSA “to specif[y] that funds for purchasing livestock may be transferred to the account of the seller by electronic funds transfer or any other expeditious method that the Department of Agriculture determines to be appropriate.” Subsequently, on September 20, 2016, H.R. 5883 was placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 601.
HPAI: FSIS Issues Directive Regarding Poultry Slaughterhouse Inspection
On September 21, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service released a directive regarding how “inspection program personnel (IPP) at official poultry slaughter establishments [are] to conduct enhanced inspection for domestic poultry in the event of a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak or an agro terrorism incident that involves HPAI viruses” (6020.1 Rev. 1). According to FSIS, the new directive updates FSIS Directive 6020.1 regarding: (1) current notification procedures and enhanced inspection documentation; and (2) instructions for IPP assigned to establishments under the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS).
FSMA: FDA Announces Effective Date for Definition of Qualified Auditor for Two Final Rules
On September 19, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in the Federal Register announcing the effective date regarding the definition of a qualified auditor in the following FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act final rules: (1) Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food and Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis; and (2) Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals; Definition of Qualified Auditor (81FR 64060). Accordingly, the definition for each final rule became effective September 19, 2016.
Pesticides: EPA's Announces Draft Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessments
On September 19, 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published notice in the Federal Register announcing “the availability of EPA's draft human health and ecological risk assessments for the registration review of carfentrazone-ethyl, copper compounds, mineral acids, spinosad, and spinetoram and opens a public comment period on these documents” (81 FR 64149). According to the published notice, “EPA's periodic review of pesticide registrations is intended to ensure that each pesticide…can perform its intended function without unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment.” The comment period regarding the draft human health and ecological risk assessments closes November 18, 2016.
Eggs: Final Rule Regarding Voluntary Grading of Shell Eggs
On September 16, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published notice in the Federal Register of a final rule “amend[ing] the Regulations Governing the Voluntary Grading of Shell Eggs to clarify the definition of ‘condition’ and revise the prerequisite requirement for shell eggs eligible for voluntary USDA grading and certification” (81 FR 63675). This final rule is effective September 16, 2016.
Animal Welfare: USDA Extends Comment Period for Horse Protection Regulations
On September 16, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a press release announcing that the agency is extending by 30 days the comment period on the proposed rule that would amend APHIS’ Horse Protection Act (HPA) regulations. As a result interested stakeholders may now submit comments until October 26, 2016. According to the press release, under the proposed rule APHIS would: (1) assume responsibility for training, screening and licensing horse inspectors; and (2) prohibit the use of all action devices, pads, and foreign substances at horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.