Thursday, December 1, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—December 1, 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:

Labor: Court Blocks New Overtime Regulations
On November 22, 2016, the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas granted an Emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction enjoining the Department of Labor from implementing and enforcing the Overtime Final Rule scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016 (State of Nevada ET AL v. United States Department of Labor ET AL No: 4:16-CV-00731).  According to the court, the preliminary injunction was issued because “[t]he State Plaintiffs have established a prima facie case that the Department’s salary level under the Final Rule and the automatic updating mechanism are without statutory authority.” If permitted to go into effect, the new rule would have increased the number of “white collar” workers eligible for overtime pay.

Labeling: FDA Announces Compliance Date for Food Labeling Regulations
On November 25, 2016, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in the Federal Register that the agency “is establishing January 1, 2020, as the uniform compliance date for food labeling regulations that are issued between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2018” (81 FR 85156).  According to FDA, the agency coordinates and periodically announces the effective dates of labeling changes to lessen “the cumulative economic impact on the food industry of having to respond separately to each change.”

Pesticides: Court Dismisses Beekeeper Complaint
On November 21, 2016, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a complaint brought by beekeepers and environmentalist to compel the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides (Anderson v. EPA, Case No. 3:16-cv-00068-WHA).  According to the Plaintiffs, EPA allegedly failed “to enforce the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act with respect to such seeds.” In dismissing the complaint, the court stated that “[t]he court is most sympathetic to the plight of our bee population and beekeepers…[and] [p]erhaps the EPA should have done more to protect them, but such policy decisions are for the agency to make.”

Spotted Lanternfly: PDA Announces Addendum to the Order of Quarantine
On November 26, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) published notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin of an Addendum to the Order of Quarantine published at 44 Pa.B. 6947 issued Saturday, November 1, 2014 regarding the spotted lanternfly (46 Pa.B. 7449).  According to PDA, the spotted lanternfly is considered a “dangerous insect to forests, ornamental trees, orchards and grapes…[and as a result] [a] quarantine is hereby established with respect to Union Township, Ruscombmanor Township, Richmond Township, Maiden Creek Township, Fleetwood Borough, Robeson Township, Centre Township, Centreport Borough, Birdsboro Borough in Berks County, Quakertown Borough, Richland Township, Richlandtown Borough in Bucks County, North Coventry Township, Spring City Borough, East Coventry Township, East Vincent Township in Chester County, Bethlehem City in Lehigh County, Bethlehem City in Northampton County, and Lower Fredrick Township, Pottstown Borough, Royersford Borough, Limerick Township, Upper Providence Township, Upper Pottsgrove Township, Upper Salford Township in Montgomery County.”

Food Safety: UK Establishes Food Crime Reporting Facility
On November 28, 2016, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Food Safety Agency’s (FSA’s) National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) issued a press release announcing the availability of the Food Crime Confidential reporting facility which now enables “anyone with suspicions about food crime [to] report them safely and in confidence, over the phone or through email.” According to the press release, “[f]ood crime involves dishonesty at any stage in the production or supply of food.” As a result, NFCU works with partners to protect people from serious criminal activity that impacts the safety or authenticity of food and drink they consume…[and the Food Crime Confidential] facility is particularly targeted at those working in or around the UK food industry.” 

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