Thursday, April 13, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—April 13, 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:

Right to Farm: PA Court Rules on Application and Storage of Wastewater
On April 4, 2017, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled on a case involving a neighbor nuisance suit and the Pennsylvania Right to Farm (RTF) law (Branton v. Nicholas Meat, LLC, 2017 PA Super 88 No. 536 MDA 2016).  The court determined that so long as an agricultural operation “substantially complies with relevant federal, state, and local laws” the agricultural operation still meets RTF’s “lawful” requirement.  Accordingly, the court stated that “a lawful use is not rendered unlawful simply because an owner may have been cited for an infraction for noncompliance in connection with the use.” Additionally, the court held that both the application and storage of food processing waste are normal agricultural operations under RTF.  The court determined, however, that the construction of a 2,400,000 gallon storage tank was a “substantial change” to the agricultural operation.  As a result, because the neighbors brought suit within one year of the change, the case was not barred under RTF.

Packers and Stockyards Act: GIPSA Rule Enforcement is Delayed Six Months  
On April 12, 2017, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) published notice in the Federal Register that the agency “is delaying the effective date of the rule published on December 20, 2016, for an additional six months to October 19, 2017” (82 FR 17531).  According to GIPSA, the “rule addresses the scope of sections 202(a) and (b) of the Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921” (81 FR 92566).  GIPSA stated that the delay in the rule’s effective date is “in response to a comment received from a national general farm organization that requested an extension of time and to allow time for further consideration by USDA.”

Litigation: “Pink Slime” Case Moves to Trial
On April 5, 2017, Reuters reported that “ABC Broadcasting has lost a last-ditch bid before South Dakota’s highest court to avoid a trial in a beef producer’s $5.7 billion defamation case over reports about a product that critics call ‘pink slime.’” According to Reuters, Beef Products Inc. (BPI) produces “[l]ean, finely textured beef [which] is made from beef chunks, including trimmings and exposed to tiny bursts of ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria.”  BPI’s suit alleges that the company was damaged when ABC referred to “BPI’s “lean finely textured beef” product as "pink slime."  Reuters stated that with the recent ruling, the trial is scheduled to begin on June 5, 2017.

Biosecurity: Public Meetings Scheduled Regarding Animal Disease Traceability
On April 3, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that the agency will hold “a series of public meetings to receive input on the current Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) system.” According to APHIS, “[t]he meetings will allow APHIS to hear from the public about the successes and challenges of the current ADT framework, specifically for traceability in cattle and bison.”  The meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
April 11: Oklahoma City, OK
April 13: Riverdale, MD
April 20: Nashville, TN
May 2: Bloomington, MN
May 4: Denver, CO
May 11: Rancho Cordova, CA
May 24: Billings, MT  

Federal Administrative Actions and Notices:
Agricultural Department

Environmental Protection Agency

Farm Credit

Food & Drug Administration

Pennsylvania Administrative Actions and Notices:
Department of Environmental Protection

Pennsylvania Legislation:
Senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs
SB 567: Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act

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