Thursday, April 27, 2017

Agricultural Law Weekly Review—April 27, 2017

Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney and Jacqueline Schweichler - Education Programs Coordinator

The following information is an update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture:

ACRE: PA Attorney General Launches New Online Resource
On April 21, 2017, a new Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environment (ACRE) Act 38 resource page debuted on the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s (OAG) website.  Enacted in 2005, the main purpose of ACRE is to protect Pennsylvania’s “normal agricultural operators from unauthorized local regulation.” Accordingly, under ACRE, OAG is empowered to: (1) review local ordinances to determine conflicts with State law; and (2) to bring legal action against local government units for unauthorized local regulations that prohibit or limit normal agricultural operations.  OAG’s new resource page: (1) provides a link to a brochure describing ACRE; (2) lists resources pertaining to 2017 requests for OAG ordinance review; and (3) provides information detailing how agricultural operators can submit written requests for OAG ordinance reviews.  For more information on ACRE, please visit the Center’s ACRE/Pennsylvania Act 38 library guide.

PA Apple Growers Approve New Apple Program
On April 26, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture released a statement announcing the  approval of the new Pennsylvania Apple Program. The new program replaces the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program (PAMP) which will expire next month. Pennsylvania apple growers will be assessed "five cents ($.05) per harvested bushel of apples sold for fresh market use and one cent ($.01) per harvested bushel of apples sold or accepted for processing." The funds will be used for membership obligations, research, consumer education, and administrative activities. 

Senate Confirmation: Sonny Perdue Confirmed as New Secretary of Agriculture
On April 24, 2017, by a vote of 87-11, the U.S. Senate confirmed Sonny Perdue to be the new U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  Following the confirmation, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairman Pat Robert (R-Kan.) issued the following statement regarding the former Georgia Governor:
“I’m pleased that the U.S. Senate was able to work in a bipartisan fashion to confirm Governor Perdue,” Roberts said. “I have faith that Governor Perdue will put the needs of farmers and ranchers first, and I know that rural America is thankful to have such a qualified Agriculture Secretary on their side.”

White House Releases Executive Order on Agriculture 
On April 25, 2017, the White House released the Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America. The executive order creates the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.  The purpose of the task force is to "identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote in rural America agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life..." The order requires the members of the Task Force to submit a report to the president within 180 days recommending legislative and policy changes.

Dairy: USDA Requests Comment on Proposed California Federal Milk Marketing Order
On April 21, 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published notice in the Federal Register of a request for public comment regarding the Proposed California Federal Milk Marketing Order; producer ballots (82 FR 18721).  According to USDA AMS, the “document invites comments on the proposed ballots to be used in conducting a referendum to determine whether the issuance of a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) regulating the handling of milk in California is favored by producers and cooperative associations.” Comments must be received by June 20, 2017.

COOL: Italy Requires Country of Origin Labeling on Dairy Products
On April 23, 2017, the European Supermarket Magazine (ESM) reported that Italy has made mandatory the labeling of products containing milk and milk derivatives.  According to ESM, “[i]f the milk has been produced, packaged and processed in Italy, the label will state: ‘Origin of Milk: Italy.’" ESM stated that “[i]f the packaging and processing phases taking place in several countries, other than Italy, the label will say: ‘Milk from EU Countries’, ‘Milk Conditioned or Processed in EU Countries’ or ‘Milk Conditioned or Processed in Non-EU Countries’”.

Census Data: USDA to Hold Meeting on Publication of Farm Operator Demographics
On April 20, 2017, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced the scheduling of an expert panel meeting “to consider questions surrounding publication of farm operator demographic data obtained through the 2017 Census of Agriculture.” Planned for May 16-17, 2017, the panel meeting will discuss “questions about NASS’s publication of 2017 Census of Agriculture farm operator demographic data including:
  • What demographic data will NASS publish on persons involved in making decisions for the farm or ranch operation?
  • What new tables and data presentations are needed to publish data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture decision-making questions?
  • How does NASS address publications in light of the specific change from single principal operator in previous censuses of agriculture to multiple persons responsible for decisions in the 2017 Census of Agriculture?”
Pennsylvania Legislation:
  • Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs: SB 632 (Grain Dealer Bonding Act)
  • Senate Environmental Resources and Energy: SB 645 (Increased Penalties - Solid Waste Violations)
  • House Environmental Resources and Energy: HB 1256 (Moving DEP Farm Permitting to SCC)
Pennsylvania Actions and Notices:
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