Thursday, March 16, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—March 16, 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:

Avian Influenza: Second Flock Confirmed in Tennessee
On March 16, 2017, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) issued a press release announcing “that a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has sickened a second commercial chicken breeder flock within the existing controlled quarantined zone in Lincoln County, Tenn.” According to TDA, federal officials confirmed the positive test on March 14, 2017, and that depopulation of the affected premises has begun.  This recent confirmation follows the previous March 5, 2017, confirmation of a separate flock in Lincoln County, Tenn.

Biosecurity: PDA Issues Statement Following Positive HPAI Test in Tennessee
On March 10, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) issued a press release following the confirmation of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a Tennessee poultry flock on March 5, 2017.  In the press release, PDA urged both “poultry producers and backyard enthusiast to take important steps that can help to protect domestic flocks.” According to PDA biosecurity plans should be put into place that “focuses on cleanliness and isolating domestic birds from those in the wild.” PDA stated that “[e]ven though this case in Tennessee is hundreds of miles from Pennsylvania’s borders, we must be on guard…[because] [i]t’s migration season for wild birds, which can carry this disease.”   

Avian Influenza: Alabama Issues Stop Movement Order for Poultry
On March 14, 2017, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry (ADAI) issued a press release announcing a stop movement order for certain poultry in Alabama.  According to ADAI, the stop movement order is the result of three suspected avian influenza cases within the state.  Currently, investigations are being conducted on a commercial breeder operation in Lauderdale County and a backyard flock in Madison County.  ADAI stated that “[s]amples from both premises have been sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa and are being tested to determine presence of the virus.” Additionally, on March 12, 2017, suspected samples have been collected from a Jackson County flea market and have been sent to NVSL for testing.

Enforcement: USDA Alleges Wrongdoing under Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act  
On March 15, 2017 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the filing of “an administration action under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) against J & R Fresh Produce LLC.” According to USDA, J & R Fresh Produce LLC “allegedly failed to make payment promptly to seven produce sellers in the amount of $281,225 from August 2015 through June 2016.” USDA stated that the PACA Division “is part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to PACA including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.”

Food Safety: Court Enters Permanent Injunction Preventing Distribution of Adulterated Milk Powder Products
On March 15, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia has entered a consent decree of condemnation and permanent injunction regarding the contamination of certain milk powder products at Valley Milk Products’ Strasburg, Virginia facility.  According to the press release, DOJ “alleged that certain milk powder products of the defendants were manufactured under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, and/or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.” Additionally, “[t]he defendants have also agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction that prohibits them from resuming the manufacture of milk powder products at the Strasburg facility without implementing effective corrective action.”

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