Thursday, January 5, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—January 5, 2017

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:

International Trade: Public Hearing Scheduled on EU Beef Import Ban
On December 28, 2016, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published notice in the Federal Register of a public hearing to discuss the possible reinstatement of trade actions against the European Union (EU) for bans on beef importation (81 FR 95724).  According to the notice, currently “[t]he EU bans the import of beef and beef products produced from animals to which any of six hormones have been administered for growth-promotion purposes.” The announced meeting is scheduled to take place before the Section 301 Committee, in Washington D.C., on February 15, 2017.

Raw Milk: PDA Issues Warning about Contaminated Cheese
On December 29, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) issued a consumer warning regarding certain batches of raw milk cheese produced by Stone Meadow Farm in Centre County.  According to PDA, samples taken from the dairy by department inspectors tested positive for the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus.  PDA stated that “[n]o illnesses have been reported that could be associated with the cheeses, which were sold between October 2016 and mid-December 2016.”

Labeling: FDA Extends Comment Period for Labeling of the Term “Healthy”
On December 30, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in the Federal Register that the agency is extending the comment period regarding the use of the term “healthy” in the labeling of human food products (81 FR 96404).  Previously, the comment period was scheduled to close on January 26, 2017.  As a result of the FDA action, the comment period has been extended an additional 90 days until April 26, 2017.

Labeling: FDA Clarifies Compliance Date for Nutritional Labeling of Menu Items
On December 30, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in Federal Register of a final rule clarifying the compliance date for the labeling of certain nutritional information for menu items in certain restaurants and retail food establishments (81 FR 96364).  According to FDA, previous notice stated that enforcement of the labeling regulation would begin on May 5, 2017, but no formal change had been made to the compliance date through rulemaking.  With the most recent notice, FDA formally confirmed that the compliance date for the menu regulation is also May 5, 2017.

Farm Succession: USDA to Offer Early Termination Opportunity for Certain CRP lands
On December 29, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that beginning January 9, 2017 the department “will offer an early termination opportunity for certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, making it easier to transfer property to the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including family members.”  According to USDA, “[t] he land that is eligible for the early termination is among the least environmentally sensitive land enrolled in CRP.” USDA stated, that “[n]ormally if a landowner terminates a CRP contract early, they are required to repay all previous payments plus interest.” Under the new policy, however, repayment is waived “if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through a sale or lease with an option to buy.”

International Trade: U.S. Wins Dispute Regarding Indonesia Trade Barriers to Agricultural Products
On December 22, 2016, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that “a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel has found in favor of the United States’ challenge to Indonesia’s wide-ranging restrictions and prohibitions on horticultural products, animals, and animal products.” According to USTR, “[t]he United States, working closely with New Zealand as co-complainant, filed this dispute to address trade barriers in Indonesia that restrict the importation of American fruits and vegetables (such as apples, grapes, and potatoes), animal products (such as beef and poultry), and other agricultural products.” USTR stated that “[t]he WTO Panel agreed with the United States on 18 out of 18 claims that Indonesia is applying import restrictions and prohibitions that are inconsistent with WTO rules.”

Animal Drugs: FDA Amends Regulation for Animal Drugs Used in Animal Feed
On December 27, 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published notice in the Federal Register that the agency “is amending the animal drug regulations to reflect approval of 71 supplemental new animal drug applications (NADAs) and 35 supplemental abbreviated new animal drug applications (ANADAs) for revised labeling reflecting a change in marketing status from over-the-counter (OTC) use to use by veterinary feed directive (VFD) for antimicrobial drugs of importance to human medicine administered to food-producing animals in medicated feed” (81 FR94991).  FDA stated, that where applicable, the agency “is also withdrawing approval of those parts of the NADAs that pertain to use of these antimicrobial drugs for growth promotion indications.”

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